AC Milan have officially kicked off their summer transfer window by adding two Serie A veteran free agents. Milan announced that 35-year-old goalkeeper Pepe Reina (from Napoli) and 30-year-old left-back Ivan Strinić (from Sampdoria) have signed three-year contracts, until June 30, 2021. Now that Milan have added some depth, what can the two veterans bring to the team as they pursue a European spot?
Pepe Reina, the 35-year-old goalkeeper who played at Napoli last season, was the starter for the Neopolitans for the majority of the season. He played all but one Serie A match and all of Napoli’s European matches.
He is a starting-quality keeper, but the odd part of the signing is that Milan have Gianluigi Donnarumma and seem to have little to no intention of selling him this window. Reina brings plenty of experience and a solid option in rotation, so that the backup to Donnarumma is not his brother, Antonio Donnarumma.
Should Gigio depart the club, Reina could easily step in for a season or until Milan can find a longer-term solution (for example, until Alessandro Plizzari is ready to roll). Reina is an insurance option that can step in as soon as he is needed, whether in a separate competition or in the case of injury. Otherwise, there is not much to add about the Reina deal.
Ivan Strinić is the more interesting of the two players to become Rossonero. Strinić is 30 years old, coming off a season for Sampdoria as well as representing Croatia as starting left-back. Strinić has shown in the World Cup alone that he is a solid left-back in terms of both defense and crossing. He adds intrigue to the left-back position for Milan, which is currently occupied by Swiss International Ricardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez is primarly an offensive-minded back, whose strength is going forward and whipping crosses into the box. That was his play last year for Milan and for Switzerland in the World Cup, the only problem with that being his vulnerability to get exposed on the wing from time to time.
Rodriguez is a quality player who is only 25, and should be sticking around next season, so Strinić is an interesting addition. Strinić is more defensive and Rodriguez is more offensive, and both have plenty of experience, so it comes down to tactics and what Rino Gattuso will be looking for against different opponents, as well as rotation. Now, Milan has a legitimate option at left-back outside of Rodriguez, whereas last season, it was only Luca Antonelli who could fill in at that position as his natural role.
Both players bring something different to Milan. The most important, perhaps, is that both are free transfers, so all Milan have to pay is their salaries. Reina provides reliable depth at keeper as a starting-quality backup behind Donnarumma, while Strinić provides a solid option on the left and another tactical look for Gattuso. While they are not flashy names or big moves, both can be looked at as good business by Milan, especially with the uncertainty surrounding the club at this point in time.
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