The summer started relatively well, by some standards at least, with the capture of Alex and Jeremy Menez from PSG on free transfers. The permanent transfer of Adel Rami from Valencia followed after some petty bargaining – for a supposed long agreed redemption fee – that made Milan look bad in the eyes of many. Some more good news followed when it was made sure that Alessandro Matri, and his free kick wall escapes, was one of many that were not going to be part of the 2014-2015 edition of the team, a loan to Genoa easily a better option than keeping him. The loaned out list kept growing throughout the summer and included Valter Birsa, Antonio Nocerino, Didac Vila, Gabriel and others. Kevin Constant found a team in Turkey and left to the seaside of Trabzon and for once didn’t refuse to leave. After some hand wringing and delay Robinho found a loan destination too. Kaka exercised his option and left for the MLS via Sao Paulo. Milan also lost or arguably gave away Alberto Paloschi by ceding their share to Chievo for relatively little money. On the goal keeping front Adriano Galliani baffled many fans by signing Michael Agazzi from Cagliari via Chievo. At first he was supposed to be the back up to Christian Abbiati but more was to come on the goal keeping front when someone inside the team realized better options were needed and Diego Lopez came from Real Madrid for free and signed for four years. Madrid surprisingly let one of their better players go for free. Pablo Armero also arrived on a year loan deal with probably the same kind of realization but of course for the full back spot.
On the youth front some strange things happened, in the middle of the World Cup four 20 year old players – Davide Pacifico, Rodrigo Ely, Simone Andrea Ganz, Kingsley Boateng – were all sold, despite all being considered at least usable prospects, for next to nothing to small teams in an apparent acceptance that at least one generation of youth products were not going to be good enough. Two more youth products followed the exit path. Luca Iotti (18 years old) and Bryan Cristante (19 years old). The latter is considered one of the better Milan home grown products fetched 6 million euros on the last day of the summer window but the departure angered many fans and put Galliani on the defensive. The CEO was forced to issue a statement to say the player had wanted to leave to Benfica and had even refused a loan to the same team.
The Mario Balotelli saga was the bigger story of the summer. The rumblings had started long before the summer that he had no future in Milan and that management, top to bottom, preferred to sell. A buyer was finally found when Liverpool offered 20 million euros and Super Mario was off rather quickly. A mini scramble followed to find a replacement, all kinds of good to poor names were mentioned and there was even a mention or two of selling Rami to raise money for a bigger capture. The team finally settled for a long term Fernando Torres loan, all of 30 years old and a serial sitter misser ala Robinho. In the midst of getting him to agree to come and lower his wages in the process Wulfert Cornelius “Marco” van Ginkel (to mention his full name!) also arrived from Chelsea on a pure 1 year loan without any buyout options.
On the last day of the market following Cristante’s sale it was thought that Jonathan Biabiany was to arrive in exchange for four million euros and Cristian Zaccardo. The latter refused to agree a deal with Parma and the deal collapsed. The often farcical nature of Milan’s mercato was on full display since Biabiany was already pictured in a Milan shirt on the team’s official site and twitter account. Galliani quickly found a pseudo alternative and signed the left sided Giacomo Bonaventura from Atalanta for 7 million euros instead.
As the window has now closed the best we can hope for is a good, successful but also stable season where all players can be properly evaluated, the squad sits at 29 and the goal of reducing the squad size has not really materialized. The 29 players on the books plus those on loan will create another glut next summer and therefore summer 2015 will require more – almost certainly chaotic – player movement. Here’s hoping Galliani and Inzaghi are able to make proper decisions based on a good 2014-2015 season. Forza Milan.