THE JANUARY TRANSFER WINDOW is open, and Milan have already officially completed the signing of Antonio Cassano! However, Massimiliano Allegri has already confirmed that Milan will make at least 1 more signing – a midfielder – but just what do the Rossoneri need in January?
So far, Milan are top of the league just past the half way stage – with 5 points between them and second placed Lazio. This does not mean that reinforcements are not needed though – particularly if Milan are to remain competitive in the champions league, since keeping key players fresh thanks to the added depth would help significantly in europe too.
On the right is the current Milan lineup – granted rotation and injuries etc will cause some changes from week to week, but that’s a typical first XI (you’ll note I’ve placed Pirlo in the LCM role since I believe he’s been most effective there) so let’s do a breakdown of the current first team squad – and the areas which are strongest and weakest.
Well first of all let’s look at the strikers- Ibrahimovic has been fantastic, and whilst Robinho’s finishing is still inconsitent his overall play was good even before he started scoring, and he’s doing well defensively too. Pato has been a bit less consistent, but he’s had some injury problems and so has been unable to get a really good run of games going.
Now that Cassano has come in and is able to play Am or up front, I do think Milan are fairly well stocked in the area – the only thing I could see happening is maybe a move for an experience backup center forward – but it would have to be a player with good hold up play and a tall physique, to give Milan a focal point when Ibrahimovi isn’t able to play.
In the attacking midfield area, Boateng has played well and almost cemnted the spot before getting injured – whilst Ronaldinho is set to depart, Cassano can play there, and Seedorf can (and has) too. I do think Milan need a creative player, but not strictly a trequartista, a more versatile player who can play both CM and AM is needed, perhaps Allegri’s old player Andrea Lazzari – whose name has been brought up.
Now the CM’s and I re-iterate the idea that Milan need to bring someone in here – it seems Massimiliano Allegri is already 1 step ahead though, announcing to the press that Milan will be signing a midfielder this transfer window. Pirlo is having a good season once more – who can forget his goal against Parma – but he’s Milan’s only real creative player.
Clarence Seedorf on his day is also excellent creatively, but with his decline and lack of form it seems these matches are few and far between, and it’s perhaps too much to ask of him to be the second main source of creativity. Whilst it would be better to get a more versatile midfielder, Kaka’s name has been thrown in to the hat – heavily linked with a loan return, could he be an answer? Maybe but there’s no telling what level he’d be at and do Milan once more want to bring back a former star in the hope of him being able to do the business again?
The DM slot is one of Milan’s other strong points. Gennaro Gattuso is having an excellent season – despite looking finished last season, the italian has seemingly gotten over his injury at last, and has adapted to his loss of speed and mobility well, whilst Massimo Ambrosini has also been a very good anchor once more. Young Rodney Strasser has been getting some more time – and definitely made an impact against Cagliari – whilst Mathieu Flamini finally looks more like the player he was at Arsenal.
Now on to one of Milan’s weakest points, the left back area. Whilst Zambrotta has some decent games he’s too old to be relied upon to produce consistently, and despite being quite pacey and decent going forward, Luca Antonini is not very good defensivley. Quite frankly the other left backs at the club are not good enough, and I think it’s necessary for Milan to either buy a left back now, or at the latest in the summer – Fabio Coentrao has been mentioned a lot, as well as the likes of Ziegler etc too.
On the other side though, Ignazio Abate has shown great improvement – he’s young, fast and has remarkably improved on his crossing and defending – apparently he had some 1 to 1 training with Assistant Manager Mauro Tassotti – who was of course the right back of the greatest defence of all time – and it showed with his perfomance against Real Madrid (where Abate managed to keep Ronaldo quiet, albeit with a little help from Gattuso)
In the center back area, Milan are once more fairly well stocked. Nesta and Thiago Silva are one of the best defensive pairings in the world, and although Nesta’s getting on a bit and has been a bit less consistent, he’s still been very good, whilst it seems Thiago Silva has stepped up to make up for it too! Bonera and Yepes are two good backup center backs, and like up front, I can’t see much happening here.
The only possibility is if Galliani manages to bring in someone like Mexes for a cut price (his contract is up in the summer) or if Milan secure a deal for Nesta’s successor early. Someone like David Luiz (who would link well with Silva) or Mahmadou Sakho would be an excellent replacement, though I think this might be one for the summer too – unless they want to play at left back temporarily (which both players have done at times for their clubs)
Lastly is the goalkeeping situation. christian Abbiati has had a decent season, he’s made some errors at times, but has also pulled off some excellent saves. Personally I think Milan should have a better goalkeeper, but he’s not so poor that it’s an issue that needs to be dealt with instantly – once more this is something I think would be best placed dealt with in the summer.
You may notice that a few issues should be dealt with in the summer, and it might be worrying since Milan haven’t made a large net spend in a few years, however several contracts expire at the end of the season, and Galliani has made comments in the past about the plan to rejuvenate and reinforce in the summer as a result of it.
So, what could Milan’s team look like? After the January transfer window, Milan could lineup with a back 4 of Abate, Nesta, Silva and Coentrao in front of Christian Abbiati. The midfield could be made up of Pirlo, Gattuso and Lazzari, behind Cassano, Pato and Ibrahimovic up front. It’s important to remember that these players would rotate with the likes of Boateng, Ambrosini, Robinho, Flamini etc – provinding excellent strength in depth and a squad capable of challenging on all fronts.
Milan already have one of the strongest squads in Italy, and despite a difficult tie with Spurs in the Champions League, the Rossoneri should be fairly competitive at least already, but with these additions the team could move up a level, and maybe even run away with the league! What the future holds for Milan in the transfer window we shall have to wait and see, but it’s bound to be an interesting month, so sit back, relax and enjoy the show!
By Hefin Davies, Rossoneri Blog