SM: From Botman to nothing – why Milan chose not to invest in the defence

By Oliver Fisher -

The AC Milan management made the decision not to make an investment in another central defender during the summer transfer window.

The terrible result in the derby has left a very sour taste, not just because of the scoreline but also due to the fact it was a fifth defeat in a row against Inter, and the rearguard was ruthlessly exposed.

Despite having won the first three matches in the league and showing plenty of positive signs, Milan have seen their momentum slashed after a humiliating loss that brought lots of old issues back to the surface.

Irreplaceables missing

As our colleagues at write, it was a defeat that highlighted a real and serious problem present in the Milan squad: the defensive department.

Pierre Kalulu’s injury and Fikayo Tomori’s suspension undoubtedly contributed to the issues, but Milan lined up with their most experienced central defender (Simon Kjaer) and an established starter (Malick Thiaw), both of whom struggled.

The signs were there

Yet the signs were already seen last season, not to mention in the preseason friendlies, where Milan immediately showed that they had yet to find a balance while covering spaces in transition, especially after the change of formation and the move to 4-3-3.

Last year (summer 2022) it was Maldini himself who glimpsed Milan’s weak point in that department, trying by all means to acquire central Sven Botman from Lille, who then moved to Newcastle. That money then went on Charles De Ketelaere.

Responsibilities of Furlani and Moncada

After Maldini’s dismissal, Giorgio Furlani and Geoffrey Moncada decided – in agreement with Pioli it must be said – to reinforce almost all the departments other than the defensive one by purchasing only Marco Pellegrino to replace Matteo Gabbia.

They believed that having Tomori, Thiaw, Kalulu and Kjaer plus Pellegrino or even Mattia Caldara as emergency options was enough for the season ahead, yet the first four have shown wobbly form for months.

The result is that Milan are leaking goals, and Inter scoring five risks being just the start of a season with more issues at the back. Now it is up to Pioli to take countermeasures by making the most of the minimum he has available.

Tags AC Milan


  1. Too bad they didn’t want to cough up the extra few M€ to get Botman. He never chose Newcastle because he was really eager to join them, but Milan wouldn’t offer the same fee of 37M and his wages are around 5M. Looks a great deal now, top defender.

        1. It doesn’t matter.

          Whatever we bid, Newcastle would’ve outbid us, and what they could offer was always more than us.

          Besides any player who chose to play for Newcastle over the recent Serie A winners isn’t probably worth worrying about.

          Now Tonali is someone who never needed to outbid anyone for as he wanted us but alas we didn’t want him…..

    1. Yes, it’s not a problem and it’s not important. As by looking at the Serie A table from 15 years ago, the winner (14 out 15) has always been nothing but a team with the best defensive work (conceding the least).

          1. “You can’t win titles if you don’t win matches?”

            You can call Sir Alex Ferguson and question his quote. I’m 1000% sure YOU know football better than him.

          2. “You can’t win titles if you don’t win matches?”

            You can call Sir Alex Ferguson and question his quote. I’m 1000% sure YOU know football better than him.

          1. Nahh, list of winners from 15 years back without having scored the most

            Milan 21/22
            Inter 20/21
            Juventus 19/20
            Juventus 18/19
            Juventus 17/18
            Juventus 16/17
            Juventus 15/16
            Juventus 12/13
            Juventus 11/12
            Milan 10/11

            Surely not 14 out 15, right? 😉
            I know, sometimes our opinion or memories are not as sharp as we’d like to think. It’s okay.

  2. Botman was signed june 28th 2022 and maldini first had his contract renewed a couple of days later july 1rst where he was also given his transfer kit spending so it was out of his hands to sign botman.
    I dont mind the new ownership even if i dont agree with all choices made by then, this one falls back to cardinale.

  3. Right after we won Scudetto with the best defensive measure, and I’m sure lots lots of us were over-hyped with the miraculous pair (Fik & Pierre) and didn’t think we need any reinforcement in that dept, but not with Maldini. He’s first target right after that season was Botman to reinforce the defense even further. Such a shame it didn’t pan out.

    1. I for one criticized Maldini wanting to get Botman as Fik and Kalulu did well but Maldini being who he saw the issues from a mile away. So I’ll always give him credit for being able to foresee issues with the squad and I eat my words humbly. This year he seemed like he wanted a change of coach😮 ..ooops. I don’t know if he’s going to be right again but if he is it’s going to look really bad on management more than it already is.

      Also one of the reasons why we got CDK was because we lost out on Botman and needed to show strength in the market and establish an image that we weren’t going to be bullied by seemingly smaller clubs. Ppl would have lost their marbles if we had lost two of our targets to Newcastle and Leeds. Plus we got the best player outside the top 5 leagues in CDK, similar to how we got the best player outside the top 5 leagues in Reinjders this year.

  4. I really wish the media could make up its mind.

    I thought this summer’s extravaganza was our best transfer campaign ever.

    Now there’s massive gaps?

    And wasn’t Thiaw supposed to be the best defender ever?

    I suppose the issue is that the media doesn’t need to bother about consistency just content. This summer created lots of content for the media. Each new signing produced 10 new articles. Good times.

    What would be useful however is instead of speculating or calling for yet more transfers, we focus on the existing players and what the existing players have already done.

    The reason Milan focused on our attack in the summer 22 transfer window (even though ironically our best singing was Thiaw) was because our defence was the platform on which we built our Scudetto. We kept 12 clean sheets in the second half of the season which were key to our title run. Our attack wasn’t great but we rarely conceded so managed to pick up three points by scoring only a small number of goals.

    At the heart of the defence were two current players: Tomori and Kalulu. That was 2 years ago when they were 23 and 21. So what happened?

    How has adding 2 years experience made them worse defenders?

    That is the billion Euro question because no matter who we sign if we can’t get a 25 and 23 year old to play like they did at 23 and 21 then something isn’t working – players aren’t reaching their potential.

    Kessie could be the reason but that seems a little too simplistic since Tomori and Kalulu have both become extremely prone to errors (again MORE experienced defenders making MORE mistakes).

    Adding Thiaw to those two should’ve sorted out defensive needs for the next decade. And it still can if we can get these guys to play to their potential – potential they have already shown.

    And let’s focus on the present – the players we have – as opposed to the past (being outbid by SAUDIS) or some made up future (hmm I wonder who we can sign in January).

  5. If we are to dwell on the past then what we were missing in the 22/23 and now 23/24 transfer windows were another Ibrahimovic or Giroud.

    These impact signings are worth 10 randomers who have never won anything (to replace 10 existing players/legends who have actually won something).

    In fact most of the 19’ers should still be playing for the club complemented by some legendary signings who could’ve lifted the squad to the next level.

    And why do we focus on the past?

    To learn lessons for the future.

    That being the lesson – focusing on quality over quantity – that needs to be the focus. If we are to sign some-ONE in January then it needs to be a leader.

    I’ve no idea who. I’m not paid a gazilion to do scouting.

    1. Our definitions of club legends might differ because as i see it the only club legends we have lost is madlini amd ibra and that is regardless of how disapointed i was with the sale of tonali.
      The club has many scudetto heroes and icons but legend is reserved for the few like maldini, baresi. rivera, ibra, gre-no-li, the flying dutchmen and some others but overall its few who desserve the moniker of being a legend

      When that is said i do agree onwards we should sign a couple of marquee signings each year,

      1. Oh I am using ‘legends’ in a slightly hyperbolic way to counter the hyperbole about how players who actually won the Scudetto were ‘average’ and not the sort of players who can, erm, win the Scudetto.

        Besides to be a legend you have to play for a club for more than 5 mins so I don’t think we’ll ever see legends again!

        1. Ok fair enough 😀 Hopefully you are wrong in your last assesment or at least when/if the stadium is built we will have an easier time to keep them with us. As i see it we havent any current legends but some could grow into one like leao, theo, maignan.

  6. Ayy what’s this? Finally something written about Maldini being correct?. Going against the whole CDK thing? Putting in a bit more context as to why we ended up with CDK is great and should have been done sooner. All it took was Inter to trash us 5-1. Instead whole summer we had to deal with the jibes against him and we tried to tell others in the comments section that it Botman was the original target smh
    Hope you guys realize the power Furlani has. He’s the one that didnt want us to renew Kessie and Chalha who would have been key for us. The amount spent going above the salary cap was less than the transfers paid to get the players we ended up getting

    1. Don’t loud it. You don’t want to break some people pre conceived notions that Maldini was out to destroy Ac Milan. And everything he did was bad and wrong and all faults, irregardless of department ultimately lies with him.

      You might open eyes and demistify the aura of ignorance.

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