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A historic summer is coming to an end for Milan, one that provided much uncertainty and still has not taken form.
The much talked about and seemingly sure thing sale of Milan dragged on and on and only reached the preliminary agreement stage in August. The months preceding the agreement gave fans and all observers much to doubt but the aftermath of the agreement has disappointed too.
Those same months brought transfers that didn’t seem to fill any need. Leonel Vangioni’s arrival from River Plate, finalized early in year, was and is rightly questioned. A full back not being the most urgent team need. Early in the summer Gianluca Lapadula arrived from Pescara and again a forward not the team’s most urgent need. Perhaps these transfers can be defended on assumptions that De Sciglio and Bacca were to depart but neither has left yet and may never leave.
The agreement with the Chinese brought increased hope for a much needed rebuild, the hope that Adriano Galliani is replaced and a new management team plans and spends wisely but massively. Marco Fassone, veteran of other Serie A teams like Inter, is said to replace Galliani soon and he may have funds to spend. The aforementioned funds have not materialized for the summer 2016 transfer window however as the agreement is not final and neither party are willing to spend without a final signature.
Many names have featured in incoming rumours and as is often the case have many have been just rumours or have been lost to other teams. Names like Marko Pjaca and Piotr Zielinski made it to other Serie A teams while Milan without funds and without leadership have unearthed lesser known and lesser rated players like Gustavo Gomez and Jose Sosa. The remaining days of the transfer window look to disappoint as well since the only possible way to capture players is in way of loans with obligations to pay next year. It remains to be seen if any player of the caliber of Mateo Kovacic can be had this way.
So the new season starts with Montella at the helm and a promise of investment in January and summer 2017. The coach has settled on a 4-3-3 formation and early on seemed open to losing Bacca and using Lapadula or Niang as a lone center forward. In the meanwhile he has to deal with an ineffective midfield and a questionable defense. Montolivo has to put a 2015-2016 poor season behind him as does Bertolacci. The indications are that both will be starters. Bonaventura will need to replicate his previous season’s form and also further prove that his exclusion from Italy’s Euro 2016 squad was a mistake. Further up front Suso has been in good form since his loan spell at Genoa and has shown promise in the preseason, Niang has shown growth as well and Bacca will likely start as long as he is still a Milan player. At the back the choices are sparse, Paletta returns from a loan and needs to be really good as does new arrival Gomez because other than Romagnoli the choices are not inspiring to say the least. Vergara, Ely and the injured Zapata do not fill any person with confidence. De Sciglio looks likely to edge out Antonelli for now and Abate will retain his spot. In goal Donnarumma will be given the chance to continue to show that he is the big prospect that he promised to be in 2015-2016. On the subject of goalkeeping it is a surprise that Lopez is still a Milan player, at one point he was close to moving to Chelsea, to serve as Thibaut Courtois’ back up, but the transfer fell through. Donnarumma is backed up by the returning (from loan) Gabriel and perhaps someone other than Lopez, the window is still open!