The summer 2021 transfer window is now shut and Milan while active left some question marks for all observers and fans.
The window started earlier than most would have expected with Mike Maignan’s arrival as a replacement for the departing Donnarumma. The goalkeeper left on a free and chose to, at least for now, occupy the bench at PSG. Not getting a fee for the Euro 2020 player of the tournament and Calhanoglu – who departed to Inter – was to affect transfer business.
As is the case every transfer window Milan were linked with a whole host of players. From James Rodriguez to to Romain Faivre to Warren Bondo all were apparently close to joining Milan. Sometimes the fee was deemed too expensive, sometimes the wages. The pattern was always trying to get a player on the cheap, discount or on loan. Aided by numerous commercial deals Milan led by Ivan Gazidis was halving their losses but Inter’s troubles sent warning signs to all that even with Champions League participation all is not guaranteed. One could argue that Inter’s problems were exceptions as they are dealing with Chinese government’s whims but it is of course obvious that the pandemic and business climate in general makes it difficult for all those in living in the real world – not PSG apparently – to remain healthy financially.
When opportunities were found Milan were able to pounce. Ballo-Toure was one such and the left back is now Theo’s back up. When Pellegri was made available from Monaco a loan was quickly arranged for the oft injured but highly rated forward. Giroud’s apparent willingness to join facilitated a deal. A deal that should have been a free transfer but a small fee was a good price to pay for a veteran winning forward on a team lacking depth. A similar argument landed Florenzi from Roma. However the player’s position raised some question marks. The right wing featuring Saelemaekers and Castillejo had been begging for an upgrade but was the Italian to be an option there or is he is to play further back and support Calabria? Early signs point to the 30 years old as being a more attacking option.
Yacine Adli was a name that surfaced later in the window. The Bordeaux midfielder is said to be suited to both a central spot and an attacking spot. In any event he did sign a long term contract but returned to Bordeaux for one year. Also late in the window Bakayoko made a return to Milan. The Frenchman arrived on a two year loan. His relative long term loan gives the team some cushion and depth for midfield that may lose a big piece, more on that below.
As most were hoping against hope for at least one big signing for the central or right attacking spots names like Berardi, Vlasic, Ziyech and others came and went with the too expensive tag. The team secured a further two year loan for Diaz but the is he to be the backup or starter? In the last hours of the window the attention shifted to Junior Messias. Certainly not a big name and certainly not what most expected. Not only in age but also in experience the Brazilian is not the most typical Milan signing. The attacking player, at 30, has one year of top flight experience. He did well with the to be relegated Crotone last season and his story of arriving late to professional football, playing in Serie D as recently as 2018 and spending time delivering washing machines just a few short years ago is inspiring. If he delivers on the big stage his name will enter football folklore.
The window began with Tomori’s loan converted to a buy, the near €30 million fee took up a big slice of the transfer budget. Tonali’s loan and obligation was then negotiated down and the player even took a pay cut to remain with his boyhood club. The aforementioned Diaz gave Milan a number 10 player.
The window ended with more question marks on exits and contracts. Castillejo was linked to the likes of Real Betis and Getafe but he ended up remaining. Conti ended up remaining as well. The two with ‘too high’ wages remain unaffordable to most other teams and remain a burden on Milan’s payroll. However it could be argued that Milan have two bigger problems on their hands. Romagnoli and Kessie have expiring contracts and they could, much like Donnarumma and Calhanoglu, leave on free transfers next summer. There was practically no news or whispers about Romagnoli’s status. Kessie on the other hand seemed to be demanding more every other day and it led to Maldini hinting at an exit for the Ivorian. Now that the window has closed and the two are free to sign precontracts with other teams on January 1st the team must find a solution and very soon.
Fans on sites and social media remain divided on a grade for this transfer window. On the pitch the team is showing signs of remaining a scudetto contender. The added challenge of Champions League football will certainly test the team and fans’ attitude.