What has happened to A.C Milan?
A disappointed Milan team during a match last season vs Bologna FC (Getty Images/ Nicolo Campo)

Once upon a time at Milan

It was not long ago A.C Milan were one of Italy’s most dominant clubs in Serie A and even the UEFA Champions League. The likes of Alessandro Nesta, Ricardo Kaka, Paolo Maldini, Andriy Shevchenko and Franco Baresi are just a few of the legends that donned the red and black.

It is crazy to think such a winning club just a few years ago are now fighting for a spot just to play in the UEFA Europa League (UEL). From years and years of trophies to a team that finished fifth in the 2018/2019 Serie A table. So we ask, where did it all go wrong for Milan? The simple answer is the transfer market.

The transfer history 

Zlatan Ibrahimović, Thiago Silva, and Ricky Kaka are just a few of the Milan transfers that turned into team legends. Unfortunately, losing them hurt the team more than anyone could have imagined. Ibra, Silva and Kaka are just three names of top talent that wore the red and black for many years until they were later sold for profit. These three players, along with many others, left a massive void in talent when they departed Milan.

It was soon realized that it was nearly impossible to replace the skill possessed by the likes of those three players mentioned above and it showed in the teams' results. 

Furthermore, in the summer of 2011 Milan decided not to offer former Italy star and 2006 FIFA World Cup winner Andrea Pirlo a contract, who then left for FREE to rivals Juventus FC. Pirlo wanted to prove he could still play and he definitely did that at Juve. He, in fact, had many more great seasons with them and won a handful more trophies during his time in Turin.

Although losing four players may not seem like a lot, this was a clear decline in the team and in the Silvio Berlusconi era. Losing key players like the ones mentioned is only half the issue, the other half is the lack of talent replacing them.

The Replacements 

The full list of questionable transfers Milan has made over the past few years would be fairly large but some of the biggest ones may include names like Nikola Kalinic who was a favourite of former Milan coach Vincenzo Montella from their time together at ACF Fiorentina. Clearly this combination did not workout well for any of the parties involved.

Ricardo Oliveira was supposed to be the great striker that replaced the departing Shevchenko but after scoring only three goals in his one season at Milan, that experiment was also a failure.

Another more recent example of Milan’s poor transfer market signings was shown in the signing of free agent Ivan Strinić. Yes, Milan did not pay a transfer fee to UC Sampdoria for him and good thing they did not because, during his one season at Milan, Strinić did not play ONE competitive match due to health concerns and other injuries. Milan and Strinić have now recently agreed to part ways but what a disaster that signing was. Hopefully, for Milan fans, new left-back Theo Hernández will have much better luck this season.

Giampaolo’s Milan

Hopefully the tough times at Milan are behind them and a brighter future awaits. Fresh creative ideas from new head coach Marco Giampaolo and his staff will hopefully bring positive play to the squad. 

Along with new exciting signings like Ismael Bennacer and Ante Rebic who will hopefully do much better than some names previously mentioned.

Although, a tough first week loss to Udinese Calcio was not what Giampaolo had in mind to start the season, a bounce-back 1-0 win over Brescia Calcio​​​ will hopefully help team morale​​​​ going forward.

But, unless Milan can find an unstoppable form and get the absolute most out of their current squad, a finish in the top four will be very tough to achieve. However, anything is possible in football.