Gaps ignored and speculating to accumulate: Milan’s January decision risks €50m+ backfire

By Oliver Fisher -

Various decisions and strategies are currently under severe scrutiny as AC Milan’s season is threatening to not just fizzle out into an unforgettable one, but crash and burn towards a disaster domestically.

A lot has been mentioned about how the squad was not sufficiently strengthened last summer after the Scudetto, how Stefano Pioli has not adequately managed the resources at his disposal nor integrated new additions and how the level of key players has dropped.

However, one thing that has not been questioned much is the decision not to invest in the squad in the January transfer window to strengthen a team that had already shown signs of weakness, such as the Supercoppa defeat against Inter and the collapse that occurred in the league.

Pioli took note of the decision and tried to go ahead with a squad that was not up to par and was arguably even weakened by the last two transfer windows.

Franck Kessie’s replacement never arrived, and he has since gone on to establish himself in the Barcelona side which is heading towards the LaLiga title win.

Then there was the decision to spend a large chunk of the budget on Charles De Ketelaere and pass up on Paulo Dybala, who has 17 goal contributions (11 goals, 6 assists) in 24 league games.

Instead Divock Origi was signed on a free transfer, a striker with a very questionable injury history and a meagre haul of 10 goals in four seasons in the Premier League.

It was clear to anyone that Milan could not rely too much on the Belgian, Ante Rebic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who for various reasons are unable to play continuously or to be able to support the weight of the attack. The Croatian even came from a season, that of the Scudetto, in which he had only scored two goals in Serie A.

The signs of fragility in the other roles were well known to the ownership before January, starting with Fode Ballo-Touré who has often been not up to par in the last two years, while Junior Messias is being asked to go from Crotone to be decisive in the Champions League knockout stages.

Even the decision to rely on Ciprian Tatarusanu is hard to justify, especially in light of the difficulties that the goalkeeper had already had last season replacing Mike Maignan. As much as the penalty saved from Lautaro is emphasised, the number two had already made several mistakes in the Scudetto win.

Milan found themselves playing with Brahim Diaz as a starter, the same player who had been the reserve of Hakan Calhanoglu who was hardly a world beater with the Rossoneri either.

January came around, the holes in the squad were clear, and yet RedBird Capital – despite the probably concerns of Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara – decided to proceed as things were and to not make money available.

Bringing forward an investment from the summer – not a huge one either – would have been a risk, but now the club face the even greater risk of taking a huge step back by missing out on the €50m+ that the Champions League brings.

Tags AC Milan


  1. In my opinion, reachs the semifinal with this squad is not bad tho, but can’t qualify UCL next year is truly disaster for Milan especially financial factors

  2. This is a collective and quality problem. The players don’t believe in themselves enough to hold the line in every game regardless of who they play, especially when Leao is out.

    They also don’t have the Milan DNA ingrained in the squad. Maldini should work on this, he is Mr Milan. Every player should know what it means to be a Milan player. Hard work every time, with class, grinta and sublime skill. I think a few players are close to exhibiting that Milan DNA, Tonali, Leao, Maignan, Tomori, Krunic. Remember it’s OK to make mistakes but it’s when and how you recover that shows if you have that Milan DNA or not… Too many players in the squad walk on that field without the right attitude.

    Imagine if everyone could have Gattusos grinta…

  3. I remember people here were hyping up Origi because apparently he was misunderstood and would do great now that he was given a chance, those same people now ragging on Maldini for signing him lmao

  4. so now we wanna blame the owners for not giving more money to the projet of which the goal is to be self sufficient?
    Last season something went right. This season something went wrong. What you gonna do? Footbal, like any sport, is unpredictable.
    I thought napoli would finish 4th but they been killing it.
    I thought Inter would be killing it but they are just a bit better than Milan.
    And i thought juve would be dismantled because they’re a bunch of crocks but suprise, suprise still there.

    1. Thank you.

      I hate modern football fans and the media.

      All they care about is money and the transfer market.

  5. In light of the constraints put on the club by UEFA, who exactly do you think we could have signed to make a difference? No one. The only solution was to use the Primavera. That has to be the main solution going forward. Without UCL the budget is €50 million. It’s enough for a CF and a midfielder. The other gaps either have to be filled from the Primavera or sales, with the mentally weak Tomori the obvious candidate.

    1. We are out of our UEFA agreeement, if we don’t spend this summer we never will

      Also 110m earnt from UCL this season…

      Need to plug the gaps in the team otherwise it wont work and no more random buys like CDK Paqueta etc, they never work for us.

      1. The €110 million from the UCL goes to clear the debt and on Leao’s renewal, that’s about €50 million gone. The owners cannot spend what they don’t have. Any idea that there would be high spending with or without UCL next season is pure fantasy. There is enough money is it is spent wisely and if some of the Primavera are integrated.

        1. You need super strong senior, else risk fighting bottom half especially with Pioli who never trust players outside his regular 11 unless he is forced to.

        2. “The €110 million from the UCL goes to clear the debt and on Leao’s renewal, that’s about €50 million gone.”

          So basically you’re saying that Milan pays Leao’s 5-year-contract this summer alone. LOL. Yeah, I’m sure that’s how it goes. You could have a looong and successful career in financing. 😀 😀 😀

        3. Are you an accountant or a football fan?

          How about you leave money to the people responsible for that side of things and focus on the actual sport of football?

  6. Line-up against Samp:


  7. I have been saying this since January. Thx Oliver. As I posted this on another article – The issue is: will Ownership provide the necessary $$ to buy 2-3 ESTABLISHED READY TO PLAY STARTING CALIBER PLAYERS or will we continue to go the YOUTH route instead and buy cheaper younger players with the POTENTIAL to develop (or not) into starters in a few years time…it backfired this past summer and Ownership certainly did not want to fix in the winter window – so there you have it. We will see but I highly doubt Redbird/Elliot will deviate from their youth policy, limited transfer budget and wage cap no matter if we make CL or not or even (if a miracle happens) win CL or not

    1. For that policy to really work you need a manager and coaching staff that are excellent in developing talent.

      The Germans are great at this, look at Dortmund, Wolfsburg and RB Leipzig.

      1. When’s the last time Dortmund won their league? Lmao?

        Leipzig won nothing, Wolfsbrug is bloody 6th atm and they were 12th last season, thats your standard????

        Bet you didnt think much before naming those examples lmao

        1. He said developing talent, not winning titles, so you’re out of context…and the reason they don’t win is because bundesliga is a dictatorship, if Bayern wasn’t there, the likes of Leipzig and Dortmund would’ve won multiple times…but serie a is not a dictatorship atm, we’ve had 4 different title winners in the past four seasons, if we develop players like Dortmund and Leipzig do, Milan might pull of a stunt like last season or one like Napoli’s this season.

      2. the Germans have league wide policies, at all levels in the football pyramid that force them to have young domestic players in their teams. Bayern just steals all the best ones, Dortmund as well, they develop great youth players for those clubs to poach them at 17-18-19-20 at low costs. Rest of the system feeds those two teams. They have national energy corporations, pharmaceutical companies and major industries investing into their league as sponsors as well. New stadiums the governments work with teams to subsidize, Italian government halts those projects. Germany is an economic power house on the world stage, Italy is broke as fluck. You can’t compare integrating Italian nationals with the German system that has been in place for a decade plus. Ours can’t even get a damn reserve league in place. Our top team built a 45 k capacity stadium, Championship clubs in England build those and fill them up with fans no second thought.

    2. What does any of this have to do with the actual sport of football?

      They say money is ruining football. Fans who only care about money are ruining football.

      If you don’t like the actual players who play for Milan go and support a different team with the players you do like. It’s that simple.

  8. Cardinale Gak mau mengeluarkan uang 20-30 juta di bulan Januari , sekarang Berpotensi kehilangan pendapatan di liga Champions setidaknya 30-50 juta , hal yg sangat konyol

  9. For that policy to really work you need a manager and coaching staff that are excellent in developing talent.

    The Germans are great at this, look at Dortmund, Wolfsburg and RB Leipzig.

  10. For that policy to really work you need a manager and coaching staff that are excellent in developing talent.

    The Germans are great at this, look at Dortmund, Wolfsburg and RB Leipzig.

    1. Rangnick really fit with RedBird/Elliot policy as DS and gasperini as coach develop young player. But AC Milan will never get any trophy/ title like leipzig or atalanta

  11. If they reach europa league they can collect 20 million. Than they can sell Adli, Ballo Toure, Rebic and Origi for combined 30 million. So that is 50 million. Enough revenue for next season because they will not spend anything either way.

  12. This article and the comments are everything that is wrong with modern football.

    You spend more time playing fantasy football than supporting the actual team.

    Supporting a club is voluntary. If you don’t like the players who play for the club, don’t like the manager., don’t like the directors, and don’t like the owners, then you don’t like the club.

    These things are inseparable so go and support a different team.

  13. Since Darmian, our former youth team captain, left the club in 2010 Milan have signed over 20 defenders.

    It’s actually hard to work out precisely the number of transfers over the last 10-15 years with all of the comings and goings and comings again and goings again and loans and co-ownerships and are you back again?, off again?

    We averaged about 20 players in and out most seasons. Full backs faired slightly better because in that period we also had Abate, De Sciglio (who now plays for the team above is in the league) and Calabria. We also gave Conti a few chances.

    But going back to Darmian we would’ve just ket him for the past 13 years and it would’ve saved us a lot of time and effort, and disruption – so much disruption – and lots of “I love you, I hate you, I love you, do I love you or hate you?”.

    This is part of the reason I hate transfers so much. For over a decade I had to get my head around supporting almost an entirely different team every few months.

    But then I took a step back and look at the state of the place. My made up stat is that the vast majority of football transfers end in “failure”.

    My measure for “success” is the player produced the same or better form compared to their previous club(s).

    Nearly every club, including successful ones will have “failures”. A tiny minority reach new levels.

    And the reason its simple. Anyone has started a new job e.g. in an office behind a desk, will know it’s one of the most stressful things you can do, it can take up to 6 months to settle into e..g your office job behind a desk.

    These are supposed to be elite athletes playing at the highest level where a millisecond determines success and failure, and where we seem to accept staff turnover at a faster rate than bar jobs.

    It’s a farce.

    People talk about “business”. I wish it was about “business”. If it was this farce would never be allowed.

    This is not about “business”. It’s about egos and corruption. And the media, rather than investigating corruption and egos, use football transfers in much the same way as gossip magazines use celebrity relationships. And it’s every bit a superficial and vacuous.

  14. The management has to take part of the blame but the truth is the coach prioritise the Cl Over the top 4. We have the top 4 in the bag but Pioli threw it out.

    1. You are right, but I’d say the ownership above all incl. the totally bad timing of ACM changing hands.
      Reaching the semi finals is definitely overachieving; somewhat similar to the scudetto last year. Hard to pass it when the opportunity might be there, especially for a team like ours with such a rich European history.
      The thing that puzzles me is why Pioli in serieA doesn’t start our best and then rotate anytime between 45-60’. Hard to believe this provides better chance of winning matches and doesn’t allow for our starters to get into a playing rhythm.

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