For all of the rebuild pieces we here at 90min have been penning recently, one to do with Milan seemed the most gratuitous – the daft buggers have been rebuilding for years.
Simultaneously, this made them the most in need of an overhaul. For much of the 2010s, they were jumping round from ideology to ideology, philosophy to philosophy hoping to land with a system that stuck, with coaches that would last two seasons. Since Max Allegri left in 2014, the Rossoneri have had eight (8) permanent managers.
Milan have gone from being a global giant across all of sport and entertainment to just another Serie A club hoping that the solution to their troubles is coming at the next knee-jerk decision. Nice one lads, you’re the New York Knicks with your history attached to Silvio Berlusconi.
Reports have been doing the rounds that Ralf Rangnick – formally Head of Sport & Development at Red Bull, informally a really f’ing smart German footballing mind – could take up an unprecedented role as manager and sporting director at San Siro. Really, Milan should have clocked onto this kind of revolution ages ago. If you’re going to do a rebuild, you can’t be half-arsed about it.
So with big Ralf’s potential arrival in mind, here’s how 90min would go about rebuilding Milan…
THE CURRENT SQUAD
There’s a scene in The Simpsons where a native American sheds a tear over Homer littering, before a fellow native American tells him, “do yourself a favour – don’t turn around.”
He decides to turn around, sees a whole landfill of garbage eclipsing the town’s landscape, and lets out a rather elongated wail.
That was my reaction to seeing Milan’s squad in full.
It’s easy to think of current Milan players, how they line up, what identity (or lack thereof) they have, but when the entire team is laid out in front of your eyes, you realise there’s a good reason why they’ve been struggling for years.
Hazmat suits on, gas masks attached, long poking sticks at the ready, let’s get down to business.
First things first, tie Gianluigi Donnarumma down to a new deal – his current one expires at the end of next season. There, move on.
In defence, activate Simon Kjaer’s purchase option upon the completion of his loan spell (see also: Alexis Saelemaekers) and convince Alessio Romagnoli that he will be the leader of this new Milan. The problems at the back for Milan seem to be more in structure than with their personnel.
A usually bright spark in among Milan’s downfall in the second half of the 2010s, Giacomo Bonaventura has been out of sorts recently, and his contract is up at the end of this season – but hey, you need bodies, give him another.
Premier League clubs love showing an interest in Franck Kessie and Hakan Calhanoglu, and if sizeable offers from England come in for them, then Milan should cash in.
In Lucas Paqueta, they have a bright prospect who’s fallen by the wayside, but you feel there’s every chance that he’d embarrass the Rossoneri if he left by becoming really good elsewhere – he’s not a bust just yet.
Milan need to keep Zlatan Ibrahimovic beyond this season – still a worthy athlete, still a worthy presence in the dressing room. Taking a shine to Rafael Leao is also beneficial, and if they can keep the Swede onside then they should have little problems finding the net.
WHO TO TARGET
The brief Milan had for a few years was to harvest the best young Italian talent on the market – the problem was that the youngsters they signed were largely rubbish, and the ones left largely play for their rivals.
So who’s available that they can still poach?
Of players not at domestic rivals, only Riccardo Orsolini and Sandro Tonali stand out, but they’ll undoubtedly be receiving offers from clubs higher up the footballing food chain. In order for Milan to make themselves a force for these kinds of players, they have to assert that they’ll come in and be key players, responsible figures as the club look at a full rebuild to finally turn things around.
Having somehow stayed at Juventus for five seasons without really doing a lot, moving for defender Daniele Rugani would be a worth an educated punt, a punt with basis – even if he isn’t great, his worst case scenario is still better than what they have right now.
Milan were heavily linked with a move for Dani Olmo in January, but he slipped through their grasp and landed at RB Leipzig – they cannot afford to let that happen again with similar level talent. And by similar level talent, I mean Dominik Szoboszlai of Red Bull Salzburg.
The first page in written form and the first line spoken aloud of any pitch Milan give to prospective signings seems for years that it’s been ‘we are literally Milan’. Fair enough, and they need to keep flexing that muscle while it remains a key part in convincing these players to come and join them.
From similar level clubs that Milan should be capable of buying off, Renato Sanches of Lille and Moussa Diaby of Bayer Leverkusen look like two players who have definitely following since summer moves.
And finally – for old time’s sake – they should totally be exploring a deal for Lucas Torreira again if he’s still having thoughts about leaving Arsenal, particularly with the number of other young midfielders on the books at the Emirates Stadium. The little terrier looked like a potential world beater in his time at Sampdoria, and while he’s not been bad for Arsenal, you feel he’d really thrive back in Italy.