January’s biggest news of course was the dismissal of Massimiliano Allegri, he had earlier confirmed that December 25th was his last Christmas at the club. His scudetto winning first season stood in contrast to the often directionless tactics and play seen more recently. Ultimately player sales shared the blame but the 4-3 loss and debacle at Sassuolo made any further time at the helm untenable. His somewhat accelerated departure led to an equally accelerated arrival. Clarence Seedorf immediately retired from playing in Brazil and flew to sign a 2.5 year contract to coach the team. Inexperience aside this was a move that was coming sooner and later and was mostly welcomed by fans.
That wasn’t the only change however, Ariedo Braida, officially the club’s sporting director, also announced that he is leaving the club after some 28 years at Milan. During the month Nicola Cortese resigned as chairman of Southampton and at least one outlet speculated that he may have a role at Milan, this didn’t materialize but is one other name to keep an eye on in the months to come.
Seedorf got to work and hurriedly set the team up for seven out of nine possible points in the league. A higher pressure game, a 4-2-3-1, seems to be his favorite but the points (and loss in the Coppa, to Udinese), seem to suggest that the players need time to adjust and Seedorf himself needs time to learn on the job and perhaps get players that better fit his ideas.
On the player front Bryan Cristante played a good 90 minutes early in the month vs Atalanta and calls for his inclusion in the senior squad got a bit louder. Whether there is room for the 18 year old now, in the Seedorf era, seems to have been answered in the negative by the end of January. Mexes spent much longer time on the bench than expected, however relatively little was said about his status on the team. he may still be the first to be sacrificed in the summer and considering his salary will represent a rather significant savings. In the meanwhile though Daniele Bonera proved that he is not a solution or alternative and Seedorf may be wise to rely on Mexes, newly introduced Adil Rami and Cristian Zapata until the summer.
January is a transfer window month of course, plenty of rumours were available daily and plenty of double talk by Adriano Galliani was present too. Every other day featured a denial and ‘our market is closed’ statement. His transfer choices and powers may be curtailed in the future, if he remains with Milan at all. The negatives have certainly outweighed the positives in recent years and it is perhaps a good idea that he does indeed leave, alas this is not a new discussion and his fate may already have been decided one way or another by Barbara Berlusconi.
Cristian Zaccardo was one of the names often mentioned in rumours with Parma and the English Premiership often mentioned, however he remained. A deal to bring Jonathan Biabiany from Parma in exchange or alone on loan fell through as Parma apparently asked for an obligation to buy Biabiany in the summer.
The final tally at the end of January was somewhat underwhelming and even the often stated goal of reducing the squad size was not achieved.
Andrea Petagna (CF) … loan recall
Adil Rami (CD) … loan Valencia
Keisuke Honda (AM) … free CSKA
Michael Essien (DM) … free Chelsea
Adel Taarabt (AM) … loan QPR
M’Baye Niang (CF) … loan Montpellier
Alessandro Matri (CF) … loan Fiorentina
Jherson Vergara (CD) … loan Parma
Antonio Nocerino (CM) … loan West Ham