This post was originally intended for tomorrow, but with the match against Parma I threw it up a day early instead of waiting a whole week...so here it is...A week ago I made case as to why buying a striker, specifically Edin Dzeko, was not the right move for Milan this summer. What I didn’t do is provide alternatives to spending the 25M on him, which I plan do to know. Now remember if Mr. Dzeko’s agent had it his way, he would sell for 40M, I have valued him high enough at 25M, so we will use that number as our guide, and here are few truths as to why…
1. To think Milan can and will spend more than 25M is a bit optimistic. Frankly I think it is reasonable, but don’t be surprised if it isless, and please don’t hold your breath hoping for more, I don’t want your suffocation hanging over my head.
2. Leo likes the 4-3-3, I like the 4-3-3, and hopefully so do many of you. With that said my advice below is catered to the 4-3-3. It is his preferred formation after all, is it not?
3. Please, please, please let’s be realistic here! This is not FM10 or FIFA10, this is the real World. We will not buy 14 players, and we certainly won’t go after "World Class" players at every position, it is impractical and unlikely so we have to stay grounded in that regard.
4. The key to this plan is three fold; versatility, Versatility, and VERSATILITY.
5. Finally, we need to have realistic expectations, Milan may not win silverware next year, we didn’t think we can even compete this year, so we have to be realistic in that goal as well, a top four finish is a must, so we need to be competitive, and maybe we will be pleasantly surprised, so here is my 25M makeover…
First and foremost we have to trim the fat, and by fat I mean the following players, you can all pick up your commemorative AC Milan watch for years of service on the way out: Dida, Oddo, Zambro, Favalli, Janks, Kaladze, Clarence, and Pippo…thank you for the good times. With that said you notice the defense has been shredded, we are now left with Antonini, Onyewu, Nesta, and Silva as true defenders. Order of business number one, bring back Astori from Cagliari. The starting CB’s can still be Nesta and Silva, but Onyewu and Astori have to be counted on to contribute, plain and simple. Astori is co-owned and I didn’t factor his cost into the makeover amount because I feel as though he should be brought back regardless, and having four CB’s who can play is a good start.
Second order of business, move Antonini to RB, he is naturally right footed and while some coaches like to the old adage of swapping sides on players that are right footed, I don’t personally buy it. The idea is that a right footed left back can cut inside to shoot and also defend nearer to goal with his strong foot, as well as make a crisp pass back when he is facing his own goal, what it doesn’t do is help out the crossing issue, so really you can go either way in that regard. The reason I move Antonini to RB is so that a LB can be pursued, my choice is Marseille LB Taye Taiwo. Club and player have yet to make a deal and the club would sooner sell him this summer than lose him for free next year when his contract expires, Milan would do well offering between 10-15M, one would hope 10M can get the job done, but again these are rough estimates and forgive my supposing.
Third order of business is Emanuel Eboue, the Ivorian is out of contract at Arsenal this summer (this is yet to be confirmed as reliable sources are conflicting!? Help would be appreciated!) and could be had for Milan’s favorite price, FREE. Yes, the jack of all trades, there is that versatility word again, can swing over on a free transfer and be used anywhere on the flanks. RW, RM, RB, LW, LM and LB, if Leo wants to bring on a sub who better than a guy that can do everything fairly well, while he may be getting older he is a BEAR and will help provide some grit, but also flexibility.
The final order of business revolves around Pirlo, if we are comfortable moving forward with Andrea as the CM, which is up for discussion, then we move for Kwando Asamoah of Udinese or Nocerino of Palermo, both players can be had for around 10M and both can flank the playmaker and provide midfield steel to support Flamini and start matches as Ambro and Rino continue to age, and their roles diminish. If Pirlo is not the future, then you suck it up with Ambro/Rino and Flamini and you make a move for D’Agostino to fill the void in the center of the park. Why D’Agostino? Because he currently plays in a 4-3-3, he knows the Serie A, and can be counted on as a box to box force relieving some stress from his aging line mates in the midfield. Yes, D’Ago would break the 25M threshold a bit, but you figure we sell Pirlo to Carletto, where ever he may be, and we reinvest immediately, for you nostalgic folks, you can even invite Clarence back to back up the former Udinese man, just make sure he gives Pirlo the watch on the way out!
While I would love to advocate the likes of Gareth Bale, Sergio Ramos, or players in their mold, it is just impractical, and instead Milan should promote from within. Make De Vito your back up LB, bring Paloschi home and have him sit behind Pato in the depth chart on the right with Aadiyah behind Dinho on the left. Borri and KJH can hold down the CF role, and the midfield could now consist of a Nocerino/Asamoah, Pirlo and Flamini with Abate and Eboue providing bench depth wherever Leo wants. Is it a “World Class” lineup? Heavens no, but the age goes down, and the pace goes up, and suddenly Milan are positioned for the future instead of always being stuck in the past.