AC Milan’s decision to focus on low-cost deals and loan formulas has been questioned and criticised by the well-known journalist Alberto Cerruti.
When Elliott Management seized control of Milan back in 2018 after a summer in which reckless spending from the Chinese ownership plunged the club into financial turmoil, it became clear the American fund wanted to run things in a more responsible way.
They committed to sizeable but not behemoth investments on players like Theo Hernandez, Ismael Bennacer and Rafael Leao – all between the €15-30m range – having not had much success after shelling out €70m on Lucas Paqueta and Krzysztof Piatek.
Since then, loans with option to buy have been the preferred formula to attract players such as Sandro Tonali and Fikayo Tomori, with both expected to stay at the club after their loans as the Englishman signed a four-year deal last week.
Cerruti spoke during a column for Calciomercato.com and while reflecting on what Milan need ahead of the summer transfer window, he hit out at Elliott for their non-committal stance regarding investments in the right players.
“The problem is precisely this: how can Milan strengthen itself if it focuses only on ‘over 30s’ like Giroud or on new alleged talents like Leao? The solution chosen by the owners seems to be that of loans, to contain costs, with the various declinations relating to obligations or options to buy,” he said.
“It is a different path than at the beginning of its management when the Elliott fund seemed opposed to this policy, preferring to focus on owned players. Now everything has changed and so many names, old and new, dance, starting with Diaz who should stay to play in Calhanoglu’s place, without forgetting Tonali, close to signing, and Dalot to talk about those already in Pioli’s team.
“But above all, we think of possible new arrivals with the loan formula and the names that circulate are those of the Spaniards Ceballos and Odriozola, of the old Rossoneri acquaintance Bakayoko who returned to Chelsea after the experience at Napoli and finally of the midfielder Ziyech, another player who Chelsea will not give discounts for, as we have seen during the negotiation for the redemption of Tomori.
“Waiting to know who among these players will arrive, we can already say that the choice to focus on the loan formula is an economic advantage at the beginning, but a double-edged sword at the end of the season. In fact, there are two scenarios: if the player satisfies, there is a risk of enhancing him on behalf of the club he belongs to and therefore losing him, while if the player disappoints he has lost a year.
“There would be no doubts, however, if players were bought outright and above all if established champions were bought, such as the Argentine De Paul who should instead go to Atletico Madrid. Because to win you need the certainties of the champions, not the bets on young people. Otherwise you just participate, looking for successes in the budgets before those in the field.
“Milan was praised by everyone because they did not succumb to the blackmail of Donnarumma and Calhanoglu, but with this policy there is also the risk of losing Kessie, whose contract expires in a year, who could imitate his former teammates by refusing the Rossoneri proposals, to accept one million more from other clubs. Time will tell, but in the meantime 8 July is approaching, the day when Pioli will return to work at Milanello. With another certainty: the passion of the Rossoneri fans will never be on loan.”