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Dublin: 10°C Sunday 18 April 2021

With some exciting signings, could Milan finally be ready to step back into the spotlight?

Without a title since 2011, are the club set to break out of the shadows?

Image: Guo Yong

EARLIER THIS YEAR came the end of an era at AC Milan as Silvio Berlusconi sold the club to Chinese investors and brought the curtain down on his 31-year stint as owner.

And, this summer, the top-brass have seemed very eager to make their presence felt.

Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux promised big things when taking over in April and they’ve certainly been true to their word.

There has been extensive spending and a litany of intriguing signings made. With a decent coach in Vincenzo Montella, it appears the 2017/2018 campaign will be a definitive one.

The club has been in the shadows for the last six seasons. Their last Scudetto came in 2011 when the first-team featured the likes of Alessandro Nesta at the back, Clarence Seedorf and Andrea Pirlo in midfield and Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front.

But since then, it’s been a valley of emptiness. Max Allegri failed to build on the championship success and the team struggled to transition when older, iconic players began to move on. Pirlo was allowed to switch to Juventus and was a crucial cog in their title win in 2012.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - First Leg - AC Milan v Arsenal - Stadio Giuseppe Meazza Zlatan Ibrahimovic was part of the Milan team the last time they won a Scudetto in 2011. Source: Mike Egerton

And it’s been The Old Lady ever since. Under Antonio Conte, the club won three in a row. Allegri replaced him as boss in 2014 and has kept the run going.

Meanwhile, Milan could only dream of similar consistency. They inevitably went through a spate of managerial changes once Allegri left. There was an ill-fated spell when Seedorf took over. He was quickly followed by Filipo Inzaghi who was subsequently replaced by Sinisa Mihajlovic who was subsequently replaced by Christian Brocchi. Montella arrived last summer – the club’s fifth coach in three years. 

Under Montella, the club finished sixth last term – their best performance since 2013. They won the Italian Super Cup but more was still expected.

Still, owing to the lavish investment, could the new season finally see the club compete for a Scudetto again?

The signings have been a mixture of youth and experience, the most high-profile being the unexpected and shock capture of Leonardo Bonucci from Allegri’s Juve. Widely acknowledged as arguably the finest defender in the world, 42m euro seems a smart investment even for a 30-year-old.

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If Bonucci is set to anchor the new Milan defence, it will be further bolstered by the addition of highly-rated right-back Andrea Conti. The 23-year-old was reportedly being monitored by Chelsea after being part of Atalanta’s magnificent 2016/17 season in which they finished fourth.

Conti can also play further forward and managed eight goals and five assists in the league last season.

Milan have also signed striker Andre Silva from Porto, the player Cristiano Ronaldo feels is his heir-apparent. He managed 16 goals in the Portuguese league and added a further four in the Champions League. Silva also made an immediate step-up to the senior national squad, scoring six teams in World Cup qualifiers – including a hat-trick against the Faroe Islands.

The Rossoneri have strengthened all over the park. Attacking midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu arrives from Bayer Leverkusen, Mateo Mussachio and Ricardo Rodriguez are further defensive additions while Lucas Biglia will operate in defensive midfield.

On top of all those exciting additions, Milan also rode out the storm regarding their most prized asset: goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

The 18-year-old, via his agent Mino Raiola, indicated that he wouldn’t be signing a new contract despite his meteoric rise with Milan – the club that gave him a chance.

But, it was just a ploy to get better conditions and he eventually signed a new contract through to 2021.

So, with so many intriguing ingredients, it seems a recipe for success. But anything less than Champions League qualification will certainly see Montella sacked and the turbulence to start all over again.

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About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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