The Tre Tulipani, Power Reijnders and transfer targets: Milan could rediscover Dutch influence

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan and the Netherlands have what some might call a love story when looking back through the record books, and it is one that could blossom again in the coming months.

Milan have taken on a far more French influence over the past few seasons with the additions of Mike Maignan, Theo Hernandez, Pierre Kalulu, Olivier Giroud and others, three of whom played against the Netherlands in the group stages of the European Championship.

However, it was Ronald Koeman’s side who arguably should have edged that game, as the Oranje forced Maignan into decisive action. In the process some of the Dutch players caught the eye, and some have even been linked with Milan.

Past and the present

There is a glorious past when it comes to Milan and Holland, more specifically the trio of Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten, and Frank Rijkaard who were at the club during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Gullit was the first of the three to join Milan in 1987 then Van Basten and Rijkaard came the following year. They formed the spine of a team that won numerous Scudetti, the European Cup (now known as the Champions League) and other trophies.

There are more modern examples of champions that have donned the orange plus the red and black, such as the all-action midfielder Clarence Seedorf who won nine trophies in his 10 years at Milan, while Jaap Stam is fondly remembered for being a rock at the back.

In the current squad, there is Tijjani Reijnders. Having arrived from AZ Alkmaar last summer, Reijnders quickly established himself as a starter in the Milan midfield, one which needed to be rebuilt after the departure of Sandro Tonali to Newcastle.

What quickly followed was a fixed spot in the national team, too, and for good reason. Reijnders ranks among the top 10 players in Serie A for chances created from open play, passes completed in the final third of the pitch and through-balls, showing that he is an all-action midfielder for Milan.

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Oranje links

Could Reijnders be joined by some of his compatriots, possibly even those currently with him in the Netherlands squad? There are reports suggesting that a couple of players are of interest to the Milan management.

The most talked about potential signing when it comes to Milan over the past couple of weeks has been Joshua Zirkzee, who was a late call-up to the squad after a couple of injury problems.

Most sources agree that Milan have already communicated to Bologna their intent to pay the €40m release clause present in Zirkzee’s contract and already have an agreement in principle on personal terms with the player.

What’s holding back the deal is the request of his agent Kia Joorabchian on commissions. The first request for €15m was rejected and it will be necessary to negotiate with him before the deal can get over the line, with Manchester United also linked now.

For example, numerous sources have been claiming that the Rossoneri are pursuing a deal for Mats Wieffer this summer. A deeper-lying midfielder to play in front of the defence is on the list in view of the summer mercato and that is exactly where Wieffer plays.

The most recent update claimed that there have been new contacts between Milan and Feyenoord, aiming to discuss the feasibility of a deal. Additionally, Milan are aiming to get the price lowered from the €25-30 million range currently suggested.

The 24-year-old was one of the regular starters under Arne Slot but given that he has left for Liverpool there are some doubts about some of the stars at Feyenoord, who may also look to take a step forward in their careers. He made 42 total appearances last season, with six goals and four assists.

Finally, Sky Italia reported that Memphis Depay could well be an alternative to Zirkzee or an additional piece for the attack. He will be a free agent in the summer, once his contract expires.

The 30-year-old can play anywhere across the forward line and scored nine times for Atletico Madrid last season across all competitions. He is a player that has been linked with Milan seemingly every summer for years.

Other names of note

There are two other midfield names that Serie A fans should be familiar with, starting with Teun Koopmeiners who amassed 15 goals and seven assists for Atalanta last season as they got top four again and won the Europa League.

Koopmeiners is not actually at Euro 2024 due to injury and he continues to be heavily linked with a move to Juventus, however nothing states that deal is done and thus Milan could try hijack it to give Paulo Fonseca a player who can play as a No.10 or a mezzala.

A possible alternative to Wieffer could be Jerdy Schouten, who was excellent for Bologna and got a move to PSV Eindhoven last summer. He has slotted in alongside Reijnders in the engine room for the Netherlands in the tournament so far and is a nice metronome.

This one is a bit more of a stretch, but if Milan are so keen on signing an attacking right-back then Jeremie Frimpong and his €40m clause might appeal.

He he has been playing further up for Bayer Leverkusen and the national team, but 14 goals and 12 assists stand out. Lutsharel Geertruida of Feyenoord – the back-up right-back – may be a more natural fit for the system.

If Milan had to make the painful decision to sell Mike Maignan for whatever reason, then the new Dutch No.1 Bart Verbruggen – currently at Brighton – is a very interesting prospect at 21 years of age.

It may be that none of the links above come to fruition, but for those that have a hankering for nostalgia the idea of another wave of Dutch talent ending up at Milan draws parallels with winning eras.

Tags AC Milan Joshua Zirkzee Mats Wieffer Memphis Depay Tijjani Reijnders

16 Comments

  1. Bring Geertruida, Wieffer and Zirkzee.
    I would take Depay to be a backup for what he can do on the pitch when he is on the pitch, but he is often injured and his professionalism and focus have always been questioned.
    I think he only played around 1800 minutes in the last 2 years combined for athletico and his injury history over those 2 years is ridiculous.

  2. Not to nitpick here but Stam didn’t play that long for us if I recall correctly. And mostly he caused problems with where he fit in with the team moreso than anything (even his defense was sus at the time). Because if he played as a CB then we played 3 at the back uncomfortably and if he played in midfield Gattuso was missed. I liked how he played for Man Utd though. Most man Utd fans lament his loss for the team. At Lazio he was good too

    1. “and if he played in midfield Gattuso was missed.”

      Jaap Stam playing in midfield? 🤦‍♂️
      Have you ever seen Stam play football?
      Stam was a back up for Nesta and your surrogate father in the 2 years he was a Milan player. When all 3 played together, Stam or Maldini would play as RB or LB depending if Cafu or Serginho was the 4th player.
      Milan didn’t play with 3 at the back.

      1. Yep completely right. Milan almost always in 2004-2006 played back 4. Our strongest lineup was probably cafu-stam-nesta-maldini , once stam left captain Paolo moved permanently to CB until he retired some years later.

      2. Your lack of Milan’s and football past is always on display. We played 3 at the back on occasion to try to fit Stam into the team. I distinctly recall Tommy Smith of ESPN during one of our UCL games 20 years ago saying how uncomfortable we looked when we tried to put Maldini, Nesta and Stam in a 3412 setup. And this was really to accommodate Stam in the starting XI in his best position because he was a high profile player. 3 absolute legends of defense, but couldn’t make it work in a back three. I’ll see if I can pull up that game for u. Stam did play RB and yes it depended on Serghino/Cafu so u got that part correct. Colour me surprised. But Stam didn’t play alot for us.
        At Man Utd he sometimes played as a central defensive mid 🤦‍♂️ but not many people watch games other than Milan on this forum and it’s ok.

        1. Sometimes you should just take the L and shut up instead of looking like even a bigger fool.
          Some of us actually watched the games and don’t have to listen to what Tommy Smith on ESPN says or someone else told us.
          I watched. You are going of what someone said.
          The only time Milan played with 3 at the back in the modern era was under Zaccheroni. Didn’t play before him and hasn’t played since him outside of few games here and there.
          Stam was brought in for depth and sometimes played alongside Nesta and Maldini in back 4 as a fullback.
          He played very well as a RB even at Lazio. Costacurta also played in many games as a full back. At that time there was no wingers like there are today, so you could get away with playing a CB as a full back.
          Stam In 04-05 season played 2286 minutes.
          Maldini played 4160 minutes.
          Nesta played 3954 minutes.
          Kaladze 1957 minutes .
          05-06 Stam played 2695 minutes.
          Maldini played 1688 minutes (Injured and old)
          Nesta played 3560 minutes.
          Kaladze played 3534 minutes.
          Also, you didn’t address the stupidity you said about Stam playing in midfield instead of Gattuso.
          Stick to glazing Maldini. That’s the only thing you are sure of knowing unless Tommy Smith told you.
          Ignorance and arrogance combined are a helluva combination.

          1. U idiot. Tommy Smith is a commentator. It was said during the game I was watching. LMAO 😂😂😂. That I agree with what he was saying is what ur mad about? LMAO 🤣 🤣🤣. U can google Transfermarkt stats (was there a point there or something??) all u want to formulate your history in your head or u can use memory of games you’ve seen in your lifetime. Do what suits u best. Based on how u rail.on Maldini I’m almost sure now that you haven’t seen him play

          2. – Milan never played with 3 CB in the modern era
            – Stam is not a RB, nor he is a CDM
            – Nesta is not a RB

            With your logic Giroud played for Milan as GK.

            Cut the crap.

        2. The only one mad here is you because again you got exposed.
          Continue with the rambling without providing anything to back up your claims besides telling me who Tommy Smith is.
          Ha ha ha.
          Find us a game please where Milan played with 3 at the back when Stam was there or when Stam played in midfield instead of Gattuso.
          You can’t. That’s why you are triggered.

          1. “IF” was the operative word Mr Transfermarkt /Mr can’t read as it alludes to the issue was where to put Stam. He was expected to be a starter but how to fit him was problematic. Do I have to spell it out for u? At right back, he wastes having Cafu on the bench. At CB, it pushes Maldini to LB and Serghino/janku to the bench. Both wasted attacking weapons. Him and Nesta didn’t gel as well in the beginning as the CB pairing but they ‘made it work’ (they were the “preferred” pairing in the UCL for instance). But how good was that preference really when the next season Ancelotti didn’t partner Nesta with him often at all. Matter of fact he mostly played him at RB and let’s be real at that age he was not the best for that role.
            The better chemistry CB pairing was Maldini-Nesta and though we did make Stam work it wasnt the best. It was clear even in your own stats u provided showed this. Nesta and Maldini was the preferred pairing and then even Kaladze got more game time than him in the second season. Almost the same amount in both seasons so he never truly cemented his spot. Granted he had injuries. But still, the preference clearly shifted and not in his favour (iirc the issue was gelling with Nesta).
            Again, if I recall correctly, we dedicated a whole preseason trying out a back 3 so your claim we didn’t try a back 3 with Stam is false. Part of the reason was to exploit both Cafu and Janku as wing backs while trying to accommodate Nesta, Maldini and Stam together. But it never worked and eventually we went back to the back four with Nesta +Other CB pairing. Again stick to googling, Transfermarkt or something. My lived experiences will always trump those numbers. That you not knowing we tried 3 at the back with those 3 tells me u google your history. You can’t find everything on the net. Those games are probably too old to retrieve at this point.
            And as usual this is such a waste of time and energy.

  3. From French player to Dutch player. Frimpong are dream signing but cannot be done unless sell key player one from theo ,leao or maignan so i think ACM wont do that. Better focused on zirkzee & wieffer first , ACM can buy both without selling key player

  4. Every time i read about milan and about players that milan are interested in i get mad. Just cheap talk that gets us nowhere .. just cheap running on the spot …..

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