The First Pieces: Higuain & Caldara
Gonzalo Higuain and Mattia Caldara have arrived from Juventus to form the early pieces of the post-Chinese era.
With very little time left in the transfer window, the deadline being August 18th, Leonardo has gotten to work even without the full management structure in place. The team still does not officially have a CEO or general manager in place but Leonardo has concluded a deal that gives the team a young central defender and takes a big step in solving the lack of goals that plagued the team last season. Caldara had mostly impressed the last two seasons at Atalanta and on loan at Atalanta (after being bought for Juventus). He replaces a defender, Bonucci, seven years older than him.
In what is a somewhat surprising move Juventus agreed to an (expensive) €18 million loan and only an option to buy and allowed Higuain to move to Milan. It is surely a verbal if not explicit certainty that Milan will pay the €36 million option next summer. Ronaldo’s arrival at Juventus nudged Higuain out and the fact that Leonardo was able to convince Higuain is a testament to the Brazilian’s abilities as a sporting director. Higuain commands a high salary but so did Bonucci, the total money outlay works out to be a relatively low number, this deal’s numbers could even be called insignificant if UEFA’s Financial Fair Play was not a factor.
Caldara signs on for a five year contract and is expected to form a solid and young partnership with Romagnoli. The latter is a candidate to be the next captain, replacing his now former defensive partner.
There is work still to be done but Bookmaker Bonuses and predictions for Milan’s season can be more optimistic. Higuain, and any forward, requires good service from the wings and midfield. Left wing and midfield creativity were a weakness last season and Leonardo needs to address that as well as possible within the financial constraints. Bernard, formerly of Shakhtar Donetsk, but now a Bosman could be one such signing and take up a spot on the left wing.
The need to sell must not forgotten either. Montolivo, Gomez, Bacca, Kalinic are the most obvious exit candidates. The first has apparently been told to find another team and the latter two are not easily sellable. Both are above 30 and the market for them is small. The team may need to accept cheap loans and/or relative little money. With news of Higuain’s arrival came the news that he will wear the number 9 shirt for the 2018-2019 season, whether this means Andre Silva – the current holder of that shirt – is also done as a Milan player is not known for sure. If all of Kalinic, Bacca and Silva do leave Milan that leaves the team with only the Argentine and Cutrone as recognized center forwards. This creates a lack of depth for a team playing on three fronts.
With just over two week to go to the start of the season there is more drama on the cards.