SempreMilan Podcast: Episode 263 – A Sitdown With James

By Oliver Fisher -

Join Oliver, Anthony, and special guest James Horncastle of The Athletic for an interview that attempts to cover all things AC Milan amid a turbulent summer so far.

This week’s topics include…

↳ What happened with Maldini’s sacking
↳ How Tonali’s exit came about
↳ Aims for the summer window
↳ The four main aims for 2023-24
↳ And more

Want more Milan? Check out our other podcasts, subscribe to the SubStack take a look at our shop and join in the discussion over on the Rossoneri Discord!

A reminder that as always you can also listen on Spotify and iTunes – and be sure to follow Oli and Anthony on Twitter!

We are always looking for your feedback too. Drop us a Tweet at @sempremilancom or an email to

Tags AC Milan SempreMilan Podcast

1 Comment

  1. The tendency to regard the criticism of selling Tonali as emotional is a strawman.

    Putting aside the cultural/emotional/intangible issues associated with the sale, it was a dumb business, completely anti-Moneyball, decision for the following reasons:

    1. His value, in terms of the cash which can be immediately re-invested, is in the range of EU65m to EU70m.

    2. Selling Tonali left us with no starting calibre midfielder (until Bennacer is fit in February 2024 – in reality he wont be anywhere near his best next season) whether we play 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 (with the latter formation now being floated as a possibility by Pioli).

    3. With no starting calibre midfielder there is a need for something between 4 and 5 midfielders who Pioli will trust. It should be mentioned here that just because he approves a purchase does not mean he trusts a players. That will be determined during training and Pioli has just refused to play players for a season despite a desperate need to do so.

    4. An immediate issue with needing 4-5 players in a position is the likelihood that at least 1 of the players we sign will flop. No one gets all of these signing correct, no matter the budget. I would think the further we dig into our range of options the less likely the player is to be a success.

    5. Tonali’s sale value does not cover the cost to replace the midfield. At best it covers the cost of 2.5 to 3 players of a value such that we have a 50% to 70% chance of the player being a success. At EU20m to EU30m we are not buying guarantees. Guarantees look like Frattesi, which cost EU40m.

    6. As such, the net gain of midfielders following Tonali’s sale is 1.5 to 2 players. Let’s be generous and say we’ll have a double pivot and no depth.

    7. We then need to look at the other high value assets we could have used to fund a sale. Leao is an obvious example but I’ll exclude him because there does not appear to have been any concrete interest at a value which would warrant his sale (i.e. approximately EU150m).

    8. Following on from 7, there are teams who are been in the market for quality keepers who can distribute, generally, and specifically Maignan. Theo has also garnered real interest. Both of these players could likely generate a sale of a sum which in the range of the Tonali sale (i.e. EU80m). We have refused to entertain the sale of either.

    9. But what is the cost to replace Maignan or Theo and what would be the actual, realisable proceeds of a sale and how does that compare with Tonali? I would include the cost to build depth in the position. This assessment will necessarily be circumstantial as it will depend on who is/was available.

    10. In relation to the potential sale of Theo. I assess the net gain to be in the range of EU60m (based on a sale at about EU80m). He could be replaced with Carlos Augusto for a sum of about EU20m. In reality that is a downgrade of a 9-9.5 left back to a 8-8.5 left back. He plays for a club, Monza, with which we have a connection and whose owners are looking to sell out of Monza (Berlusconi’s family wants to sell the club). Valeri at Cremonese also seems to play 3 left sided roles (i.e. full back, wing back and mid without being an attacking winger). He would cost virtually nothing on account of Cremonese’s relegation. He is an immediate upgrade on FBT. Being a Cremonese player he is also basically local to Milan. We also have Bozzolan who will be close to the grade.

    11. In relation to Maignan, I, again, assess the net gain for the sale to be in the range of EU60m (with a sale at about EU80m). Carnesecchi is worth about EU20m (and will now replace Onana at Inter). Vicaro was worth about the same amount. We had already agreed terms with Sportiello, on a free transfer, who is very arguably a top 10 keeper in the Serie A. That is particularly important for the potential signing of Carnesecchi who is still young.

    12. If we sell Theo or Maignan we have a sum in the range of EU60m to spend to upgrade the depth of the squad having covered replacements for the players we sold. You could then fund the addition of 1.5 to 2 players to a Tonali-based midfield.

    Selling Tonali wasn’t good business. It was desperation to expand the budget and has done virtually nothing substantial to improve the squad. It is what I would expect from amateurs who have no experience building a squad.

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