With the ownership under the so called vulture fund of Elliott Management under way the task of rebuilding Milan after the short and still unexplained Chinese rule begins in earnest.
The relative ease in which Yonghong Li lost Milan feels surreal. A man who was reported to be bankrupt provided over €400 million of his money and got a loan of just over €300 million from Elliott to buy Milan, then he was cast aside for failure to pay back a €32 million capital injection well before the October 2018 deadline to repay the initial 300 plus interest! How he had the initial money and how he refused to sell to one of at least two American groups before Elliott stepped in defies explanation. He might yet have his day in court when he challenges the early take over, may be then more will be known about him and perhaps more will be known about why Berlusconi’s Fininvest deemed him safe hands over a year ago.
Elliott’s work of appointing new people directly in charge of Milan is still on going, Paolo Scaroni is the president and sits at the head of board of directors table. Elliott claim to want to keep Milan for 3 years and stabilize if not increase its value before selling it on.
It is very telling that a sporting director is officially in place before a CEO or general manager. Leonardo was presented this week and gets to work in the little time left in the transfer window. It is worth noting that the 2018 summer transfer window, for the first time, closes before the first matches of the season. The 2018-2019 season starts at an early August 18th and that date also marks the end of the summer transfer window. Leonardo therefore has very little time to tweak if not change the team and provide the first spark in the new rebuild. Fans and Bookmaker Bonuses eagerly await and hope that Milan and more specifically Leonardo can deliver an improvement and a quick one at that.
With the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling that paved the way for Milan’s re-entry into the Europa League the team retains some of its attractiveness to players. As usual rumours are abound with names and not surprisingly the fascination with center forwards remains. Higuain or Morata are the names most mentioned. Each will cost a lot and while the former provides more guarantees of goals the latter has age on his side. Arguably both will be handicapped if the players surrounding them are not creative enough. Milan’s midfield still lacks creativity and depth. Lacking any new midfield fantasy Biglia in the middle of the park must rediscover his passing legs, Calhanoglu and Suso must be better passers and Conti and Rodriguez need to cross as well as they have ever done. Of the current strikers all of Andre Silva, Kalinic and Bacca seem to be out of the picture. That leaves Cutrone and whoever else arrives for that sole forward spot. The 4-3-3 formation that is still favoured by Gattuso requires one central striker but Milan need to find players that convert more often than the current players were able to last season. Leonardo needs to find a left winger sooner or later as well because depending on Borini – and possibly Calhanoglu in that spot – there is accepting a weakness the team can not afford.
It seems that Bonucci will make himself the Serie A story for the second straight summer, although few things can top Ronaldo’s transfer to the Turin team. Rumours are circulating that he wants to return to Juventus. Perhaps a deal can be made with Juventus to swap the defender for Gonzalo Higuain. Since Bonucci’s departure leaves a big void in central defense Leonardo is also trying to get his hands on Juve’s Mattia Caldara. The young defender presents a more long term option than the Argentine.
A lot is dependent on Financial Fair Play rules which are and will continue to handcuff the team more than any owner may. Leonardo can not do too much even if Elliott are willing to provide for it. The likes of Ivan Gazidis, Umberto Gandini or whoever else that arrives for the CEO and general manager roles will have lots to do.