Losing Astori to Cagliari for a mere 5M Euros has left me a bit sour. These co-ownership deals have always been a bit too odd for my liking, but this one simply bugs me on a few levels. I can’t help but feel this is a mistake not just for the present and future of AC Milan but for the player as well. I mean what was Fester and Co., who have been on a roll of late reversing the stupidity of 2008-2010 with a great transfer campaign, thinking when they let this one slip away.
For years we have been listening to people tout players like Gamberini, Bonucci, Rannochia, and Chiellini as the next great dynamic CB duo for the Italian National team. While all along, in the ranks of the Rossoneri, sat Davide Astori a player who at 23 years old was finally starting to show the promise that many believe he had, and drawing comparisons to Milan’s very own Alesando Nesta is no small feat. Tall, quick feet, and great tackling technique he made a name for himself quietly at Cagliari under co-ownership, where he has never had the strongest team in front of him, but played well regardless. In fact at this age he is poised to mature into a great CB and how was he rewarded? By being left exactly where he is, no longer under co-ownership and putting Milan in an awkward spot of having to pay a premium to bring him back if they see the error in their ways.
Let’s forget a minute the fact that Astori could be playing alongside Ranocchia or Chiellini in the upcoming Euro and focus solely on AC Milan. The Rossoneri have the pleasure of having one of the best CB’s in the game in Thiago Silva, unflappable, athletic, and relentless. Pairing him up with Astori could see a CB combination to rival any in Europe for ten years. Not to mention having Nesta on board for another year means Astori could have developed alongside one of the greats and learned from the best. Seems like a no brainer, not really. Instead Milan chose to buy Mexes, a player coming off a bad knee injury, and a player not specifically known for his discipline. Now the Frenchmen can play a bit, don’t get me wrong, but why not make the move and reward a player who was bred in the system, a system that has given us the likes of Costacurta, Maldini, and Baresi?
I can’t help but think this is a poor move, Astori would have been cheaper in the wage department and with Yepes still around he could have been groomed in good spots like Silva before him. Has Milan really lost touch with young talent this poorly, especially young defensive talent? Not to mention it sets a terrible example for other players in co-ownership situations, it basically says you can bust your hump and play well and the Club that raised you doesn’t seem to give a crap. Instead we will take an older player, coming off an injury to boot? So many cried for a rejuvenation of Milan’s defense with youth, and we had the opportunity staring us in the face and this is what we get? Where are those crying for youth now? I do realize Milan have a decent relationship with Cagliari, but with talks of the Marchetti-Amelia swap breaking down and Cagliari failing to secure the services of Poli, was to be co-owned with Milan, it appears that the life line between the two clubs is failing as well.
It is also no secret my Italian heritage and love of the National team is ingrained in my love for this game and Milan have dumped that to boot. Sure we got El Shaawary, a great move in my opinion, but just a few months back seeing Prandelli’s call ups have more Inter players than Milan was an embarrassment that clearly doesn’t have the same effect on a Club who has given the Country some of the greatest defenders to ever play the game. I could understand if Astori was an average player, but the talent and skill set are there and a bit of nurturing and confidence would have gone a long way. If failed, he failed, but it is almost criminal to not reward the player and give him the chance to become the player many believe he can be. CB’s are not a dime dozen, it is a challenging position, one that requires maturity, development, and solid skill set. They took a shot on Sokratis and saw the error in their ways, but I can’t help but feel we missed the boat on this one too.