CM: Kjaer, Tomori, Botman and Lazetic – Milan’s January strategy with Maldini

By Oliver Fisher -

The January transfer window is approaching with directors Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara carefully planning when, where and whether to intervene. write that the focus is currently on the renewals of Rafael Leao and Ismael Bennacer while Hakim Ziyech remains a ‘dream in the drawer’ for now. Looking at the last three seasons starting from 2019-20, it is clear that the management will only intervene for the right opportunities.

In 2020, two leaders like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Simon Kjaer arrived to give new impetus to a team that was deflated by the 5-0 defeat to Atalanta. They were joined by Alexis Saelemaekers, who later proved to be invaluable to Pioli’s system, and Asmir Begovic too. Krzysztof Piatek, Suso, Pepe Reina and Fabio Borini were all sold, plus loans for Mattia Caldara and Ricardo Rodriguez.

Four signings were made, with one being a free transfer and three on loan with an expense that – considering the options to buy of Kjaer and Saelemaekers the following year – did not exceed €14m.

Three players arrived the following January, one for each department: in defence Fikayo Tomori came on a paid loan and was bought six months later for €30m. In midfield Soualiho Meité (loan) and in attack Mario Mandzukic (free transfer) arrived, the latter to give Ibrahimovic a deputy. The market therefore cost almost zero while Conti, Musacchio and Duarte left.

Earlier this year, Marko Lazetic was the only January signing that Milan made despite the team being in the Scudetto hunt. After Kjaer’s serious knee injury Sven Botman was pursued but he did not arrive and nor did any alternatives due to costs of various operations and a lack of sales. The decision to bet strongly on Pierre Kalulu paid dividends.

That leads us to the present, where a similar approach of paying attention to the budget with no major sales foreseen, even if players like Bakayoko, Adli, Lazetic and one of either Messias or Saelemaekers could depart.

Barring sensational developments on the Bennacer and Leao front, making large up-front investments seems unlikely. The squad for the Champions League last 16 must be taken into consideration as some new players could be added who were not on the group stage squad list such as Adli, Thiaw and Vranckx, but reflections are underway.

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