The Italian Serie A has lost its competitive edge, and we have Juventus to thank for that. The Old Lady has won SIX consecutive Serie A titles with little difficulty. Roma and Milan came closest to topping the current champions with both finishing just four points behind (Milan in 2011/12 and Roma in 2016/17).
To give you a sense of their dominance in Serie A, here is the amount of points that have
separated them from second-place finishers in those six successful campaigns: 2016/17 (4pts), 2015/16 (9pts), 2014/15 (17pts), 2013/14 (17pts), 2012/13 (9pts) and 2011/12 (4pts). Clearly, the Serie A title has decided to set up shop in Piedmont’s capital city.
I think I speak for all neutral fans of Serie A when I say it’s time for someone to knock Juve off that top spot, and the ones to do so may very well be the Old Lady’s neighbors in northern Italy: AC Milan. I Rossoneri have made numerous modifications so far this summer suggesting that they are ready to make their return to Serie A glory…something they and their fans fiercely desire.
Milan desperately need to rebuild. Their seven European Cup/Champions League titles make them Italy’s most successful club in the competition, yet since the 2012/13 season they’ve failed to finish above fifth place; meaning they’ve been absent from the tournament the past three years. From 2013/14 until now, Milan has finished 8th, 10th, 7th and 6th. That’s hard to believe for a team considered to be the third-most successful club in the world due to their 18 international trophies (Real Madrid: 21, Al Ahly: 20). But there are big changes on the horizon.
The first is arguably the most important of them all with Silvio Berlusconi’s 31-year ownership of the club coming to an end. With another unsuccessful Serie A season coming to a close, Berlusconi made the decision to sell the club for €740 million to
Chinese investors. Under new co-owner and chairman Yonghong Li, an increase in funds has become available to the club which is, quite honestly, exactly what they needed.
Li and manager Vincenzo Montella have wasted no time in bringing new talent to the San Siro. Those already confirmed to be joining I Rossoneri include defenders Mateo Musacchio, Ricardo Rodriguez, defensive midfielder Franck Kessié and Portuguese attacker Andre Silva (whom I hailed in another blog post). Musacchio, who dealt with some muscle injuries last season, can be solid in the back. He isn’t the largest central defender you’ll encounter, but his tackling and urgency to defend the 18-yard box is crucial to a struggling Milan defense. Rodriguez is everything a club could want in a wing-back. His ability to advance up the pitch and create chances, whether it be a cross or a shot on target, along with his compelling desire to win the ball back proves how good of a player the Swiss international is. The young Kessié shares Rodriguez’s desire to win the ball off of opposing players. In the center mid position, the Ivorian’s brute strength, power, dribbling and playmaking serve as one of the main reasons Atalanta finished fourth in Serie A last season. At 20-years-old, this guy is only going to get better.
These are already four impeccable signings by Milan and they’re nowhere near finished. Rumors are constantly swirling in the football world, but two other deals seem very close to being complete with Fiorentina striker Nikola Kalinić and young, Atalanta talent Andrea Conti both ready to sign up for the ride. Conti, who netted eight and assisted four from the wing-back position last season, would partner wonderfully with Rodriguez. The two will create loads of chances for Silva and surely aid Milan in their mission to climb back up the Serie A table. Other rumors that may possibly occur (because trust me they have a lot of money to spend) include RB Leipzig’s Emil Forsberg, Fiorentina midfielder Borja Valero, Lazio starlet Keita Baldé Diao and Polish international Grzegorz Krychowiak. Some reports have even surfaced today that the ‘Big Nose’ may be on his way back to Milan. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is full of surprises, but I think this is a bit far-fetched.
In addition to luring new players to the San Siro, Li and Montella should focus on crafting a new deal for 18-year-old goalkeeping sensation Gianluigi Donnarumma. The incredible shot-stopper could be lured away by either Real Madrid or Juventus, but he seems to be brushing off interest from the two European giants stating he’s looking to purchase a new home in the Milan area. Donnarumma’s lightning-quick reactions in goal, as well as the way he seems to be able to read opposing strikers, could see him rise to become the world’s best between the posts very soon. If he doesn’t sign and the club lose him for nothing next summer, due to contract expiration, not all hope is lost.
It seems as though Milan already possess Donnarumma’s heir in 17-year-old Alessandro Plizzari. The teenager, who has been at Milan since the age of six, hasn’t had a chance to
showcase his talent in Serie A due to Donnarumma’s superiority. So when the U-20 World Cup came around and Donnarumma was busy with the senior national team, Plizzari pounced on his chance to let the world know his name. After his only mistake in the tournament saw would-be champions England defeat Italy in the semi-finals, Plizzari made up for it by saving two penalties in a shoot-out, third-place playoff victory against Uruguay. If Donnarumma does leave next summer, this kid has got Milan’s back.
While the 33-time champions in Turin are certainly favorites to make it seven in a row next season, Milan will give them a run for their money. With no European competitions to worry about, they’ll be aiming for that top spot in Serie A. Though they may need one or two more seasons to once again be crowned champions of Italy, they should no doubt find themselves finishing within the top five yet again. The Milan revolution is only beginning.