AC Milan have had an effective transfer window in contrast to the wayward and extravagant spending spree of Mirabelli last season. Milan have had to respect the FFP rules and thus have been cautious to formulate the deals well.
Milan have signed eight new faces and made one loan move permanent. These are my ratings for the new rossoneri signings.
Fabio Borini: C
Borini deputised a few roles in the past season and played more than expected. He netted five times and proved to be a threat coming off the bench to kill of some games. This deal is now permanent and it benefits the team to have a jack of all trades on the squad especially with the multiple tournaments Milan will be playing in. Borini’s work rate is his best feature and will be important for Gattuso.
Pepe Reina: B+
Milan did well to snag Reina from Napoli for free. Reina will do well to bring some competition to the goalkeeping area as Gigio has been unchallenged since breaking into the starting XI. Reina’s experience makes him an asset as he will be able to mentor Gigio and pick up the mantle in games that require more experience between the sticks. Perhaps his greatest contribution to the team will be his leadership in guiding the young squad.
Ivan Strinic: C
Milan snuffed out this deal before the LB’s stunning World Cup campaign. Strinic’s performances in Croatia’s run to the final make him a bargain transfer. Strinic could be a backup to Rodriguez to put some pressure on him to improve his performances. He has considerable Serie A experience with Sampdoria and will be a strong backup. The issue with the signing is his lingering injury and his visible fatigue from the world cup that may hinder his campaign.
Alen Halilovic: D
This was a bit of a surprising transfer and the club referred to this as a ‘bet.’ Halilovic is a gamble more than anything and it seems difficult to see how he gets playing time over Suso and Calhanoglu. Halilovic has had a difficult time in Spain and Germany but is young and full of potential. This move adds some creativity to the squad but this depends on how Halilovic adapts to Gattuso’s methods.
After his debut for Milan in the Bernabeu Trophy, Mattia #Caldara on Instagram showed his great emotions with a message:— The AC Milan-Godfather (@ACMilanSydney) August 13, 2018
"It was an unforgettable night, my first match as a Rossonero in such a prestigious stadium”
Mattia Caldara: A-
One of the exciting moves by new director Leonardo. A direct switch for Bonucci sees one of the most exciting young prospects in Serie A join an incredibly young back line at Milan. Caldara has the potential to be a solid CB for the coming decade and proved at Atalanta that he can be a commanding presence. The Romagnoli-Caldara partnership is one to look forward to for Milan and the Azzurri. Milan have lost some experience at the back but replaced it with an exciting prospect.
Gonzalo Higuain: A+
The Marquee signing of the summer. Leonardo pulled off a heist bringing Higuain to Milan, on a loan nonetheless. Higuain is a proven goalscorer in Serie A with 111 goals in 5 seasons. He is the no. 9 desperately needed in Milan, all that the team needs to do is provide the necessary supply. Although Higuain has slowed down compared to his legendary 36-goal season with Napoli he has a great eye for goal and should immediately increase the threat in front of goal.
Tiemoue Bakayoko: B-
Bakayoko into the midfield on a loan is another smart move as it’s low risk, high reward. The Frenchman had a below average season at Chelsea but had a stellar season with Monaco they year before. It’s a gamble but it eases the pressure of Kessie and if he thrives could takeover from Biglia. He also always Gattuso some tactical flexibility moving from 4-3-3 to 4-2-3-1. If he can rediscover his form he can be the best signing of the lot but if not he will just have a relatively quiet loan spell.
Samu Castillejo: B
This was an interesting move for Milan as many people including Bonera noted Castillejo’s preference of playing on the right. The Spaniard is coming off a strong season and is relatively quicker than Suso. He could slot in easier on the left in a 4-2-3-1 thus offers the team more pace on counters and more tactical flexibility. He has the potential to form strong partnership with Suso on the wings and if he can build upon his strong season he is another contender for top signing.
Diego Laxalt: B-
Laxalt had been a target for Milan in the past but now arrives as a reinforcement at LB considering Rodriguez average season and concerns around Strinic’s fitness. Laxalt is pacy and tricky but moreover has been a threat going forward for Genoa over the past couple of years. He is coming of a strong World Cup campaign where he displayed his ability to make deep runs and put the ball into the box. Laxalt was an unexpected move in the last few days but considering Milan’s woes at LB since Maldini, he can be a key addition.
@adamoritacco @ForzaMacaroni AC Milan are already 10 times a stronger squad than last season just by including Patrick Cutrone and Gonzalo Higuain alone without including the acquisitions of Pepe Reina, Mattia Caldara, Bakayoko.#WeAreACMilan pic.twitter.com/UfSPhTnsTA— Nicola Polito (@N7Necromorph) August 16, 2018
AC Milan: B
This has been a solid and well planned mercato following the relatively aimless spending of Mirabelli and Fassone. Leonardo has done well to build up the strengths of the previous season and get reinforcements and replacements where needed. The attack is significantly stronger with Higuain and more creativity with Castillejo and Halilovic. The midfield has more depth with Bakayoko. The defence has options now with Laxalt, Caldara and Strinic and there is finally an experienced keeper. The squad is more wholesome and looks to be a better fit this year. Moreover Leonardo did well to lean out the squad clearing the wage bill of Bonucci, Bacca, Kalinic, Antonelli, Gomez, Locatelli and Silva.
The reason for the B grade comes down to three factors:
- Majority of the deal were loans with options to buy thus if there is no UCL next season there is potential for an exodus.
- The most significant issue of a mezzalla still has not been dealt with leaving us to wait and see what Biglia or potentially Bakayoko can do in the centre of the park.