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AC Milan: A Year in Review

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Not bad, but not the best

AC Milan v Bologna FC - Serie A Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

What a year it has been! From picking up their first piece of silverware since 2011 to booking a spot in Europe for next season and everything in-between, it was quite the ride for AC Milan. Much like most rides, this one had its many ups and surprisingly less downs than you’d think (relative to previous seasons of course). With Milan’s season over, despite one game remaining, lets review it all!


Ups:

Donnarumma

AC Milan v Bologna FC - Serie A Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

What else is to be said about the youngster other than the fact that he is simply sublime? Without Donnarumma, Milan would’ve surely been in 10th place in Serie A or maybe even lower. The youngster put on a superb display this season, pulling off saves that one would surely believe could only happen in FIFA/PES. Milan need to do everything in their power to sign an extension and ward off Europe’s top clubs, and getting a spot in Europa will only help the cause.

China

AC Milan Press Conference Photo by Studio Buzzi/AC Milan via Getty Images

Ah yes, the takeover that almost wasn’t so (again). Luckily, Li Yonghong saved this one at the last minute (early April) when he was able to get the necessary funds to purchase Milan per Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux. After countless delays, Milan was finally exchanged from Berlusconi’s hands to Chinese ownership. This ends a reign that lasted from 1986-2017. In his tenure, Berlusconi’s Milan raked in an impressive 29 trophies with 5 Champion’s Leagues and 8 Scudettos. While we say goodbye to the man that revolutionized Milan, one can only say it was a more than timely end as Berlusconi’s Milan had grown stale and desperately needed a change at the top. Along with him, we say goodbye to transfer market wiz and CEO Adriano Gallani. The pair served as integral pieces to Milan and created a team that so many feared, and it is with deep respect from our team here at ACMilanTheOffside that we say thank you to Berlusconi and Gallani.

Europa League

RSC Anderlecht v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final: First Leg Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Well it’s not the Champions League, but I would’ve been stunned if it was with our squad. Milan made it by the skin of their teeth in the same fashion they missed out on Europa last year. The new rule for the Coppa Italia is that if the team who wins already has a spot in Europe then the final spot goes to 6th place in Serie A (used to be Coppa Italia runner-up). Last year, Milan missed out on the final spot despite making the Coppa Italia final and losing to Juve in OT (finished 7th in Serie A). Why is the Europa League tournament so important for Milan? A few reasons really. The first is that with the influx of cash from the new owners, Milan are able to do a true squad overhaul, but without European football to offer, the potential signings would most likely consider options elsewhere. Another big thing is the confidence it brings to the team. This is a team that has been out of European competition for almost four years. Milan will finally have a manager make it to his second season for the first time since Allegri, and a squad with confidence going forward. The final thing is what it does for the fans. Milan have had problems with the Curva Sud and Milanisti alike, and Europa plus the new ownership will go a long way in assuring the fan base that the team is moving in the right direction.

Youngsters

FC Crotone v AC Milan - Serie A Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

We’ve said it time and time again, but Milan have some young guys that can flat out play. Donnarumma, Romagonli (when he was healthy), Locatelli, Deulofeu (loan), Pasalic (loan), and Suso all had excellent seasons. While Deulofeu is likely to leave for Barcelona in the summer, Pasalic has stated that he’d like to remain at Milan and only time will tell if his request is honored. We’re still waiting for Hachim Mastour to become everything he’s touted to be, but until then we’ve got quite a few youngsters that will continue to mature and hopefully stay at Milan.

Silverware

AC Milan v Juventus FC - 2016 Italian Super Cup Photo by AK BijuRaj/Getty Images

Milan was able to snatch the Supercoppa away from Juventus in superb fashion, with Donnarumma stonewalling Dybala in penalties and Pasalic hitting the decisive penalty against Buffon.


Downs:

Inconsistency

Atalanta BC v AC Milan - Serie A Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

As is typical for recent Milan sides, the consistency of play just wasn’t there this year. Milan lost games to Empoli, Genoa, Sampdoria, Udinese, and a few others you just wouldn’t expect losses from. That being said, Milan also beat Juve and Lazio. Milan is capable of putting in a quality performance, and they did a in a few games this season, but not enough to warrant the title of a high-quality side. Juve, Roma, and Napoli rule Italian football as it is, and are better set up at the moment, but it’s our hope that times will change at Milan and we’ll see the Italian giants from before.

Injuries

Udinese Calcio v AC Milan - Serie A Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images

Boy did this one hurt us. All credit to Montella for dealing with the lack of fit players he had at his disposal. The Rossoneri lost their most creative player early in the season in Bonaventura, Montolivo went down next, and Abate later on as well. He also was constantly missing players for key games (Suso, Romagnoli, Paletta, Antonelli, De Sciglio, etc.).

Overall Quality

Atalanta BC v AC Milan - Serie A Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

While Milan were able to garner enough points to book a spot in Europe, one can only question the true quality of the side. Milan snagged this last qualifying spot with a side that I can’t say would make it very far in the Europa League. While there is hope for the future, Milan’s currently quality of play and players just isn’t enough to carry them past even the first knockout round in Europa. The impending transfer window business is imperative to the quality of the Milan side for next year’s campaign.


Final Grade: B-

AC Milan v US Citta di Palermo - Serie A Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

There are probably many who would disagree with me on this grade, but let’s look at the facts. Milan met their expectations of Europa, won silverware, had an impressive showing from youngsters, gained new owners/funds, and have their new ownership already placing deals in principle (Rodriguez, Musacchio, and Kessie) before the transfer window has even opened. The quality was by no means what Milanisti wanted and Milan have a long way to go in order to get back to the top, but if/when they do, this season will be seen as an integral one in the process.