AC Milan are firmly in a new era under the ownership of Elliott Management, and a clear change in the recruitment strategy has been evident since they took charge.
Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara were put in as directors, while the visionary Geoffrey Moncada took charge of the scouting department and number-crunching Hendrik Almstadt became an assistant of sorts to the CEO Ivan Gazidis as part of a new management in 2019. Zvonimir Boban was there too, but was dismissed midway through the season.
In total the above have signed 29 players over last the past three seasons with some faring better than others, so with that being said we have attempted to rank to top five players brought in under the ‘new era’…
5. Simon Kjaer
After Milan were destroyed 5-0 by Atalanta and confidence was at an all-time low, the Rossoneri made a relatively under the radar signing in Simon Kjær.
While the media and fans were thrilled about the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic (more on him later), Kjær quietly set about his task of reorganising the defence and adding much needed leadership at the back, which was a luxury for Milan in the old days with Maldini and Nesta among others.
The Dane initially formed a wonderful partnership with Romagnoli and later with Tomori, helping and guiding them to improve as well as contributing much needed aerial ability and even giving advice to the likes of Gianluigi Donnarumma and Mike Maignan in their positioning as goalkeeper.
4. Mike Maignan
Just when fans were heartbroken about the betrayal and eventual departure of generational keeper Gigio Donnarumma, Milan signed Mike Maignan of Lille off the back of an extraordinary season with the club, who won Ligue 1 and knocked PSG off their perch.
It was never going to be easy to replace Donnarumma who had just won the Euros and was a Milan youth product. However after 26 games this season, Mike actually seems more of a fit for the system than Gigio was.
He has incredible reflex saves in his locker, the quick feet to beat players and exceptional ability to sweep and distribute. Keepers have always been underrated but Maignan’s heroics in the derby has given him somewhat of a cult hero status at the club already.
— MilanData📊 (@acmilandata) February 15, 2022
3. Fikayo Tomori
After missing out on Mohamed Simakan as their main centre-back target back in January 2021, Milan still needed a third-choice in that area as they were thin at the back with only Matteo Gabbia and Pierre Kalulu to back-up Alessio Romagnoli and Simon Kjær.
Milan then went and signed Tomori, a player who initially was a breakout star at Chelsea but then but then became inconsistent and was dropped in favour of Kurt Zouma and Antonio Rudiger, especially with the signing of Thiago Silva.
Tomori barely got a proper training session when he was asked to fill in for an injured Kjær in the derby and he was brilliant. Romagnoli started falling out of favour with Pioli, so the Englishman was given a debt against Roma in a match at the Olimpico. Partnering Kjær – a more experienced player – helped his growth and his impact was instant, famously jumping 2.68m to score against Juventus in a 3-0 win.
His performances against Atalanta this season has also been noteworthy and has given Pioli a much needed tactical variation with the high line.
2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Milan’s youth project looked like it was going awry as a young squad began to crack under pressure, and the management decided that they needed a central figure. A then-38-year-old Ibrahimovic came back from the MLS, and his impact was instant.
He scored a goal on his first start against Cagliari and then became a huge presence in the dressing room. Feb 18
Although his last few months have been blighted with injuries, the Swede’s presence cannot be understated because he has done what exactly he was signed for.
.@Ibra_official 2020 • The lion roars again
— SempreMilan (@SempreMilanCom) December 27, 2020
1. Theo Hernandez
This is debatable of course, but Theo is probably the best and most impactful signing Maldini has made. As one former left-back scouted out another, Theo’s impact after his move from Real Madrid was instant and he even became top scorer for a while in the 2019-20 season before being overtaken by Ante Rebic.
Theo has also been consistent throughout his Milan tenure and recently showed his loyalty by signing a new contract until 2026 despite being courted by PSG and Manchester City.
He is perhaps the perfect symbol of the project because he was scouted by Moncada and co., Maldini’s personal attempt to land him showed the pull of the club, Pioli got the best out of his potential and the leadership then made an effort to lock him up long-term.