Jan 192020
 

The first half of the season ended with a win and a successful return for Ibra. The Swede got his first start in a pseudo 4-4-2 alongside Leao up front. The quality of the play was not the best and required Ibra to move back and try to create from midfield several times. Leao showed his pace and potential but also showed his rawness. In the end both forwards scored in the second half to beat Cagliari 2-0. Leao got a big deflection for the first right after half time and Ibra diverted a low Hernandez cross into goal like only he can.

The January market changes have begun but nothing major has been done yet, loan moves for Reina and Caldara have baffled as much as anything and the two have been replaced with Asmir Begovic and Simon Kjaer. The former may get a start as Donnarumma’s thigh issue is not healed.

The rest of the lineup in the so called 4-4-2 looks to be similar minus injuries. The back line will feature Conti, newcomer Kjaer already getting a second start following the midweek Coppa win, Romagnoli and Hernandez. In front of them Castillejo, Kessie, Bennacer and Calhanoglu will play the midfield roles that have to improve service to the front runners.

In contrast to the week 19 opponent Udinese have won three in a row and have climbed to just a point behind Milan. The team is led by Rodrigo De Paul, the Argentinian is subject to a few rumours and his stocks looks set to rise with a transfer away from Udine likelier every week.

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Jan 162020
 

Milan entered the 2019-2020 Coppa Italia race with a 3-0 defeat of SPAL. Rumours of Arnault family of LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) group taking over Milan persist despite denials. The market in fire sale mode?

A much changed line up featuring a front three of Castillejo, Piatek and Rebic won easily against a SPAL team who mirrored their poor league form. With injuries to Gigi Donnarumma his brother started in goal. New comer Simon Kjaer covered for the injured Musacchio. Ibra was on the bench to see Piatek scoring and looking better than he has recently. Castillejo scored the second and along with Rebic worked hard. Hernandez added the third and continued to be star of the team.

A handful of loans have been completed, another few may be on the way. Joining Reina and Caldara for the exit door could be any or all of Rodriguez, Piatek, Calhanoglu, Kessie, Paqueta and Suso. The team will need replacements for most if not all of the potential departees and should be asking for more than some of the rumours indicate. Milan’s historical inability to sell high may be exposed again with most departures turning into bargains or loans.

LVMH group have denied interest in Milan on more than one recent occasion but the alleged negotiations seem to be going on and Elliott may be getting ready to sell. The rumoured near 1 billion euros take over is somewhat hard to believe in these Financial Fair Play times for a team in poor shape on and off the pitch.

Jan 112020
 

Ibra made his second Milan debut early in the second half versus Sampdoria. The first half of the game was largely ineffective in the same way Milan’s season has gone so far. The Swede’s availability this early after signing with having not played competitively for two months was a good sign of his commitment and he partnered well with Leao, another second half sub, but the game ended a 0-0 tie. The team, Suso in particular, had a poor game that once again focused the need for big changes.

The changes may or not accelerate. January transfer rumours have certainly ramped up with many possible exits including Caldara, Borini, Rodriguez, Kessie, Piatek and the aforementioned Suso’s names in the mix. Caldara is set to be loaned to Atalanta. There is little sense in losing another central defender when Duarte is on the injury list but the Italian’s loaning will mean at least one central defender will arrive. He could be a veteran like Simon Kjaer or other surprising name. Earlier rumour mentioning Barcelona’s Jean-Clair Todibo is now dead as the young player joined Schalke in the Bundesliga.

Team strengthening will need to happen somehow, the team’s offense is one of the worst this season. Ibra’s influence and the need for changes may finally become catalysts for a formation change that drops so called wingers. A 4-3-1-2 or other to forward formation may return with Leao and Ibra together. Calhanoglu is the likely candidate to play behind them. The rest of the line up is to change little for now. Krunic struggled versus Sampdoria so a Kessie return is likely, Bennacer and Bonaventura look to keep their place. Calabria, in Conti’s place, was a somewhat surprising week 18 starter. The former looks to line up again with Musacchio, Romagnoli and Hernandez, in front of Donnarumma.

Cagliari led by Joao Pedro and Giovanni Simeone were flying as high as 4th in early December but have fallen to sixth place after losing their last three Serie A games.

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Jan 062020
 

Week 17 was a humiliation. There is no other way to describe it. It was also a tragically apt way to close the decade that saw Milan fall and fall further down with Berlusconi’s mishandling of all aspects of the team all the way to the present uncertain or incapable hands of Elliott. Losing 5-0 to Atalanta will hopefully present a lasting wake up call to face the reality of football and Serie A moving forward instead of talking about the past.

The first step is however a return to past. Ibra, all of 38 years old, will arrive and attempt to kick start Milan on the pitch. He would represent an exception because there are probably no other 38 year old players that have the skill, stamina or standing to affect a game and team morale too. It says a lot that even though he has just arrived and signed he is available to start and may get the start versus Sampdoria. Whether that is wise or not remains to be seen but this is one of the reasons his presence should and will make a difference.

The 4-3-3, such as it is, will survive for now and the focus may switch to Leao instead of Piatek. The latter may be the obvious casualty of Ibra’s arrival, especially if 4-3-3 and/or any one center forward formation remains. It would seem unlikely that Pioli will alter the team’s formation too much. Conti, Romagnoli, Musacchio and Hernandez will play in front of Donnarumma. Bonaventura, Bennacer and Kessie will again be the three man midfield. The latter may be sold soon however. Suso and Calhanoglu’s future is also somewhat uncertain but for now they will remain part of the front three.

A few names have been rumoured for the January market but it remains to be seen if big changes are possible in the winter or help will arrive only in the summer. For now Milan’s management will attempt to help Ibra and Milan by finding a star or two as soon as possible.

Sampdoria had a horrendous start under Eusebio Di Francesco but have improved with Claudio Ranieri’s guidance. However the team is still in a relegation fight and of course features its own version of successful older player in soon to be 37 Fabio Quagliarella.

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