After three years where it seemed like Milan were almost trying to deliberately stymie success, it is starting to look like the wheels of progress are finally turning.
Since Milan ended their season with a surprisingly upbeat victory over Torino in May, the Rossoneri board have been hot in pursuit of a new direction that would lead them back up the table instead of enviously watching Juventus compete for European silverware.
It began with the chase for Carlo Ancelotti, the former Coach whose presence would have reconfirmed the club’s ambitions both on the pitch and off it – the reported offer that included very specific guarantees in the transfer market would’ve been a huge boost had the ex-Real Madrid manager re-committed to the club.
However, health – and perhaps a fair degree of scepticism – from Ancelotti has led to the Italian taking a year off while recovering from back surgery. The Rossoneri have looked for alternatives and found one rather quickly – agreeing personal terms with former Sampdoria Coach Sinisa Mihajlovic.
The Serbian comes off a successful campaign leading the Blucerchiati to seventh place during a season where they only lost eight times, a number only bettered by champions Juventus and runners-up Roma.
After attempting to hire personable, fan and player friendly rookies in Clarence Seedorf and Filippo Inzaghi, the club’s appointment of Mihajlovic is a deliberate move in another direction. The performances during this abject Milan season have reeked of apathy, without a respected veteran culture that previously kept Rossoneri players in check.
The Diavolo can’t bring Gennaro Gattuso, Paolo Maldini and Massimo Ambrosini back onto the training pitch and instil discipline, so their new Coach will do that instead.
A passionate and fiery character, Mihajlovic is a skilled organiser and motivator of teams – a trait that management hopes will rub off on the players. With the mass exodus expected, the former Lazio and Inter defender should find it easier to instil his own identity at the club, as the team has thus far struggled to create its own.
Along with player exits, the prospect of arrivals has been given a monumental boost by the news that Silvio Berlusconi has agreed to sell a stake in the club to an investor. Long time suitor Bee Taechaubol had an offer accepted for €470m to purchase 48%, thus giving the Thai businessman an inroad to begin investing in the side after clearing the club and holding company Fininvest’s financial checks.
Assuming the businessman passes those final negotiation proceedings, he offers the Rossoneri and their fans the potential of numerous exciting possibilities. First and foremost, another pocket to pull funding from aside from Berlusconi’s rapidly tightening purse-strings is a step that could allow Milan to once again begin offering high profile players the chance to play in Italy – ones they would have ignored or sold in recent years.
Taechaubol 's connection with agency company Doyen Sports gives Milan an avenue into players such as Monaco’s Geoffrey Kondogbia and Radamel Falcao, while President Berlusconi’s ambition to bring Zlatan Ibrahimovic back to Milan is already being explored by Adriano Galliani, however unlikely it may be.
Taechaubol and Mihajlovic are not yet officially part of Milan just yet, but in the coming weeks and months may provide hope-starved Milanisti with more than a flash of optimism. Time will tell.