Singles Going Steady | AC Milan (and maybe Sven Botman) at the Gates of a New Dawn

by Stelios Karakasis

It’s the summer of 2022 and following their recent success in Serie A, in addition to an impressive turn of financial fortune and amidst consecutive Champions League appearances, AC Milan find themselves in a peculiar state mercatowise.

Sven Botman all smiles when asked about Milan rumours

With the transfer market opening soon, and after many long, ignominious years, young emerging talents from around the world actually consider the possibility of moving to Milanello and find it rather appealing. They too, like their agents, recognize and appreciate a focused, down-to-earth, and optimistic project that starts bearing fruits, allowing players to compete at the highest level, and maybe win a couple of trophies, while significantly increasing their market value. No more Taye Taiwos on a free transfer, no more Michael Essien-type ex-footballers prancing around the San Siro, only in shape when enjoying the city’s famous nightlife.  

On the flip side, said young emerging talents, being young, emerging, and, well, talented, are on the radar of various clubs around the continent, clubs with money to spend, squad holes to fill, and fans to please. Like Newcastle United.

Take Sven Botman, for example, one of the prime targets of the Rossoneri for this window. The twenty-two-year-old Dutch international has impressed in the French Ligue 1 during the last two seasons, unexpectedly winning the league with Lille OSC. Standing pillar straight at 1.95 meters tall, extremely strong physically, and relatively fast (well, not slow), the central defender is unsurprisingly dominant in the air, clearing crosses with ease, a top-notch aerial first ball winner inside his own half, not to mention his own penalty box.

However, being a product of the Ajax academy, he’s also comfortable in possession, and capable of passing and receiving the ball with either foot, a trait favoring his role in the build-up play. Botman also exhibits a resolute and mature reading of the game, while during his spell in France he’s improved in the area where his weaknesses lie, namely facing runs from the deep near the sideline, where fast and more technical attacking players can take advantage of his somewhat slow turns.

Today is June 9, and according to our ever-reliable sources that is people on Twitter with exclusive breaking news about the European transfer market while sitting in front of a screen obsessing over other exclusive breaking news on Twitter, Botman is ready to sign for Newcastle. But, don’t forget, Manchester United (of course) are also heavily, though not evidently, interested in the player. Maybe PSG or Bayern Munich as well.

When asked in a recent live interview about his future with AC Milan, Sven Botman didn’t say a thing, but his wide, genuine, and spontaneous smile revealed more than a thousand words. Botman seems to want Milan at least as much as Milan want Botman. Joining a promising backline, consisting of impressive youngsters Fikayo Tomori and Pierre Kalulu, arguably last season’s best central defensive duo in Italy, and the beautiful man and player that is ole Simon Kjaer, the Dutch giant would be a great addition. There’s also Magic Mike Maignan between the posts, his not-so-old pal from that Championship-winning Lille side.

It’s quite funny that Botman, who has apparently agreed on every term with the Italian side, may very well be playing for Newcastle next season. Newcastle offer more money to Lille, Milan are waiting for funds to clear from their concluded RedBird takeover, Botman is going on a holiday. That’s football, that’s economics, that’s life. Still, the Botrace (sorry) is on.

But Botman or no Botman, Milan will be well-advised to continue on the path taken the last two years. Directors Paolo Maldini and Frederic Massara, along with the incredible Stefano Pioli and the experienced nous of Ivan Gazidis, have done a fantastic job guiding the legendary club towards success once again, with their astute, practical, and decisive team building.

And therein lie the foundations of Milan’s recent resurgence; no more ghosts of glory past haunting this organization, these ghosts are more useful as an example, not as a constant excuse or an absurd weight on the team’s shoulders.

Memories of greatness rarely fade in football; they’re not made that way. But the only way to keep them alive, kicking, and most importantly, always relative, is to look straight at the future and build upon it. That’s how legacies live forever. Good news, finally, for the tormented Rossoneri fans worldwide; Milan are on the rise again. Then again, that’s what they always do, don’t they? 

Follow Stelios Karakasis on twitter @rpmCartel and on Instagram @a_charge_of_the_winged_hussars