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Is Zlatan the Answer?

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All this Ibra to Milan talk got me thinking, and I want to present the pros and cons of such a move, despite that fact that I personally believe adding any form of striker is the wrong move for a team with eight of them on roster and still no legitimate RB outside of Zambro, who is 33, and actually losing pace as we speak!

There is little argument against the point that Zlatan is one of the most technically gifted players of this generation. His touch, footskill, and simple audacity to do some of the things he does on the pitch has no real equal. Yes CRON and Messi can make magic when attacking a defender with the ball at their feet, but Zlatan’s ability to “stand up” on the ball and make a deft touch or pass is spectacular, and if deployed behind two strikers may be just the player Allegri’s is craving for his number 10. His ability to receive the ball in various spots both wide and central between 25 and 30 meters from goal makes him very dangerous and while his goal scoring would certainly decline, his ability to create space would be an ideal trade-off. Using him in this position does little for balance, but unlike some other players on roster his use in the middle would not be as catastrophic. His size makes him a formidable opponent in the center of the park and as long as his work ethic allowed him to get behind the ball he may actually find some success in the hole.


(FYI: I hate YouTube videos because they often show the same stupid move or trick from fifteen different angles and fanboys then rejoice at how awesome said player is. I chose this video because it showed a good mix of technical skill, some tackling(!) and more importantly Zlatan's ability to receive the ball in numerous places on the pitch.)

His presence would also benefit players like Pato or KJH who would no longer have to be deployed in a wide right channel. His presence would actually allow both players a bit more freedom, along with Borri, to rotate Zlatan and present much more danger and pressure to opposing defenses in a more conventional two striker partnership. Picture for a moment Zlatan getting the ball at about 30 meters and Borri and Pato both beginning runs from the left, defenders would be forced to shift, opening space on the attacking right flank, and forcing midfielders and CB to come out to cover Zlatan. This would in turn open space for Pirlo while allowing Pato to make a darting run on his strong foot, and Borri to support, move forward, or create space by holding a defender with him, all strong points to Borri’s game. Utilizing players in positions to succeed is the mark of a good team, and while any #10 can provide this to some extent, having one with the technical ability and prowess of Zlatan makes it all the more inviting.

This actually suits Allegri’s narrow 4-3-1-2 formation because he can deploy two DM’s around Pirlo, be it Flamini/Ambro/Rino or Abate, again using players available and putting them into comfortable positions. Width would then have to come from the RB and LB but their necessity in the attack could be on an as needed basis as opposed to required as it has been in the past under Carletto and Leo, which obviously exposes the defense. By using less width in the attack it keeps the defense covering well east to west on the pitch and the congestion in the middle will force opponents wide where they are less dangerous and Milan can then create double teams with the DM's and Backs. This will probably be pivotal to the success of Allegri's formation as it was with Cagliari and can become a reality at Milan with the right personnel.

The positives on the attack and formation, as you can see, are very intriguing, but the price of Zlatan is an immediate con. His wages are worse than Ronaldinho, and while his purchase would rid of us of the dependence on Ronaldinho, whose lack of pace and motivation are always up for debate, it will do little for the rest of the depth issues the team suffers. There are few people who can argue that this team does not needs a RB and midfield depth in a bad way, and spending the entire transfer war chest on Zlatan would then force money from sales to fund the rest of the needs. A starting RB should be priority, and again I hopethat is one thing many of us can agree on.

A personal issue I have with Zlatan is the 2006 failed move to Milan, he didn’t have the patience to see the final resting place of AC Milan following the Calciopoli scandal, and while part of me understands his point, the rest can’t help but view this as greed and a disregard for the shirt he wears. Inter or Milan, as long as I get paid is the way that plays out to me. I also have a bit of discontent for a player like Zlatan who is an owner’s pet, a signing to satisfy the ego of the man in charge. It happened with Moggi, Moratti, and La Porta, it was only Old Silvio who let this one slip away, think he wants to fix that? Thankfully a guy like Zlatan brings it on the pitch, but owner’s pets are never a good signing for the Club, Coach, or Fans! Haven’t we learned enough lessons with the laundry list of Silvio’s pet Brazilians Rivaldo, Ronaldo, and Ronaldinho?? One mistake is enough for me…

Finally, for all the accolades that Zlatan has had heaped on him for the past 5-6 years, he has yet to experience any real Continental success. His trophy cabinet is full of Scudetto titles and individual Serie A awards but his play in the Champions League has left a gaping hole in his career accolades. With Milan actually playing in the CL next year, at least for six group stage matches, it would be good to have a player who didn’t cower under the pressure of Europe’s most prestigious trophy. Maybe he “breaks the duck” with Milan, but do we really want to wait and see with our entire transfer budget? Let's just say we don't make it out of the Cl group, or even qualify again next season where does that leave us and a player like Zlatan, happy or unhappy?

I will be honest I hate the silly season rumors, most of them are usually a complete waste of time anyway, and are often drummed up by agents and media outlets to make up for slow news days. Fester has already come out with a few statements to claim that the price tag for Zlatan was too much, and that if he was going to move to Milan transfers would need to be made. Either way I wouldn’t get overly excited one way or another, and even if rumors pick up I wouldn’t be 99.9% sure of anything until it shows up on acmilan.com as official!

Just because Zlatan does not make his way over to the right side of Milan there is absolutely no reason Fester can’t continue to make smart pursuits like Honda, Caceres, Lazzari, Galloppa, Cigarini, and a host of other versatile players that can help make Allegri’s 4-3-1-2 a reality, while strengthening the team for the future as well. Yes it means parting ways with deadweight, all of it, and it may mean a rough season or two, but at this point this rebuilding process is two to three years late and if we put it off again it will only continue to prolong the inevitable collapse of an aging roster and the lack of youth available to fill their spaces.