Milan look to define this upcoming season as a resurgence to return back to European domination and recognition as one of the globe's top and most respected clubs. However, just how far can the Rossoneri bounce back from a subpar seventh place finish the previous season under new manager Vicenzo Montella?
Mediocrely Repetitive last year
Long time recognised club president and owner Silvio Berlusconi and vice president Adriano Galliani have impatiently awaited for the return of the club to the promised land, but the actions and resources of the club have disallowed progression due to instability. Sinisia Mihajlovic was appointed this past season away from Sampdoria in order to debunk the likes of Juventus, Roma, and others from winning the Scudetto, but eventually had his contract terminated just as Clarence Seedorf, Pippo Inzaghi and most recently Cristian Brocchi all did by the club. On the other hand, former manager Max Allegri comfortably wins trophies with arch-rivals Juventus since leaving the Rossoneri.
Fininvest, Berlusconi's company that claimed ownership of Milan, has suffered losses in recent years and has not been able to provide the inflow of money needed to bring in world-class talent and maintain the talent they already have. Therefore, a squad that once consisted of Paolo Maldini, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, and more now contains the likes of Juraj Kucka, Luiz Adriano, and others that are not the peak of the footballer talent pyramid.
The seventh place finish in Serie A depicted the inconsistency of the players to earn results, especially against sides like Carpi, Frosinone, and other lower table/promoted clubs in the league. At times the acquisition of Carlos Bacca and Giacomo Bonaventura seemed to lighten up San Siro (at least for the fans that filled up half of the stadium during the duration of the season), but Milan could not even secure themselves into the Europa League or give themselves a set identity.
Opening and closing fixtures
Milan open the season against the other club in Turin, Torino. Torino finished the previous season in twelfth place and are also looking to find themselves climb up the table hopefully to a Europa League spot. The following week, they're in Naples and will face a tough test against Napoli. Home games with Udinese and Lazio fall either side of an away trip to Sampdoria before they close their opening six out with an away game with Fiorentina.
Milan have a rather kind close to the season and this gives them an upperhand on clubs in a similar position come the end of the season and wins in five of the six are almost to be expected. Empoli away from home kick starts Milan's final six before they face promoted Crotone, who are likely to be fighting to remain in the top flight. The hardest fixture of their closing six comes against Roma before they travel to Bergamo to do battle with Atalanta. Their final home game comes on the penultimate weekend when they face Bologna and they end their 16/17 Serie A season away to Cagliari.
Milan will be out to retain the city of Milan having got the crown with a massive 3-0 win over rivals Inter. The first time they lock horns comes on match day 13 and the return derby is on match day 32.
Milan began their first of seven preseason matches during the summer against Bordeaux of France where they would win 2-1 thanks to Suso who returned from his season-long long spell at Genoa. Furthermore, the Rossoneri would travel to the United States to participate again in the International Champions Cup in Chicago, Santa Clara, and Minneapolis. Superior opposition would prove too good to be true initially against Bayern Munich where Milan won on penalties (5-3), but eventually the talent pool of English Premier League sides Liverpool and Chelsea would outscore them 5-1. Milan began the TIM Trophy tournament against Celta Vigo winning 4-2 on penalties and is yet to play Sassuolo. Milan will conclude preseason against newly promoted Bundesliga side Freiburg.
After a long and stressful wait by Milanistas, Silvio Berlusconi and Fininvest officially sold AC Milan to Yonghong Li and his group of Chinese investors for a reported €740m. Berlusconi, a former Italian Prime Minister who bought the almost bankrupt club in 1986, solidified Milan as one of the most successful clubs in football history with multiple domestic and continental league titles including the UEFA Champions League. Berlusconi described the sale as "a painful decision but a necessary one." The value of Milan was well over the price Li had purchased the club for, but Berlusconi was willing to sell for less "as long as there was a commitment to invest.” The club has already had a few additions to the squad including Gianluca Lapadula, Leonel Vangioni, and Gustavo Gomez. Major transfers are expected to occur within the club in the near future.
The 2016-2017 squad, including the players stated above, will look similar despite the return of a large set of players from their loan spells across the globe. The highlight of the squad would be the young exciting prospect Gianluigi Donnarumma, who is highly regarded to being the future of the club and compared to Italian legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma, Diego Lopez, Gabriel.
Defenders: Ignazio Abate, Luca Antonelli, Davide Calabria, Mattia De Sciglio, Rodrigo Ely, Alessio Romagnoli, Gustavo Gomez, Gabriel Paletta, Leonel Vangioni, Jherson Vergara, Cristian Zapata.
Midfielders: Andrea Bertolacci, Riccardo Montolivo, Giacomo Bonaventura, Keisuke Honda, Juraj Kucka, Manuel Locatelli, Jose Mauri, Andrea Poli.
Forwards: Carlos Bacca, Gianluca Lapadula, Alessandro Matri, Suso, M'Baye Niang.
Bacca will look to replicate and better debut season
Carlos Bacca netted 18 times in his debut season in Serie A and his goals will again be important this year. He was one of few to feature in every single game last year, highlighting his importance to the side as a whole. Gianluca Lapadula will offer him a solid partner and will score goals himself.
Will they meet objectives?
Milan are likely to improve but how much is entirely up to them and not so clear to predict. They have an outside chance of challenging for the Champions League spots but are more likely to finish between 4th and 6th.