For the third edition of the 'Rossoneri Nation Squads’ we look at a country that has given Milan some of the best players in the history of the game and players who came to win. Brazil gave to Milan a wealth of talented players who all left a mark on the history of the club. Most significantly, Kaka transformed the game and the identity of the trequartista in his time with the club eventually winning the Ballon d’Or. Just to clarify, the XI features the best Brazilians based on their performances for Milan and not their overall careers. Hence the legendary Ronaldo does not make the cut in favour of Alexandre Pato who netted 63 goals and won a Scudetto. The players in this squad won 2 Supercoppas, 2 UEFA Super Cups, the 2003 and 2007 Champions Leagues, the 1999, 2003 and 2011 Scudetti, the 2007 Club World Cup and the 2003 Coppa Italia.
GK: Dida (2000-10) [302 Appearances]
Dida was generational goalkeeper for Milan who managed to deliver some of the biggest triumphs for the club despite being relatively error prone. The keeper was a leader on and off the pitch and is often remembered for his reflex saves. He was as close to the definition of a shot stopper but was one of the best at facing penalties. He amassed over 300 appearances and managed to keep Abbiati at bay for about a decade.
RB: Cafu (2003-08) [166 Appearances]
Cafu joined Milan after he had cemented his status as one of football's greatest leaders and defenders following his exploits with AS Roma and Brazil winning the Serie A, World Cup and Copa America. Cafu joined Milan and took over a key position at RB where his intensity, attacking propensity and stability elevated Milan to the 2003-04 Scudetto. His mastery of the game and his physical fitness allowed him to excel at the club despite being joining the club when he was 33.
CB: Alex (2014-16) [48 Appearances]
Alex featured for Milan when the club was going through a defensive crisis as they needed to replace Mexes. He played for two seasons at the twilight of his career where he managed to provide average results. Alex heralded a centre back transition period where he partnered well with Rami and Romagnoli despite his advanced age. Alex will be remembered for his monstrous performance in the derby against Inter Milan in 2016 where he scored the opener as Milan won 3-0.
CB: Thiago Silva (2009-12) [119 Appearances]
Silva was one of the best defenders in the world during his time at Milan and his exit was detrimental to the club. The Brazilian was heralded as a top defender by the likes of Maldini, Nesta, Gattuso and Seedorf who played alongside him. Silva's great positional awareness, superior tactical understanding coupled with strong physical presence made him a complete defender. He closely resembled Baresi's sweeper style defence and the Milan legend even stated that Silva was as close to an heir as he ever had.
LB: Serginho (1999-08) [281 Appearances]
Serginho is one of Milan's longest serving Brazilians and only played for the Rossoneri in Europe. He was easily one of the most hardworking players even to don the red and black shirt. His versatility made his a key player in Milan's multiple Champions League victories and their solid performances in Serie A as he could play as a left back, left midfielder and even a left winger at times. Serginho was lucky enough to score one of the penalties in the final against Juventus in 2003 but unlucky to miss a penalty against Liverpool in 2005.
CM: Leonardo (1997-03) [124 Appearances]
Leonardo joined Milan as an accomplished player but had transformed his position from being a left back to being a more versatile midfielder. When he joined in 1997 he alternated between playing as a left midfielder and right winger. His versatility and vision made him a central part of Milan's attacks and he played a key role in the fight for the 1998-99 Scudetto where he scored 12 goals supporting Weah and Bierhoff immensely.
CM: Emerson (2007-09) [40 Appearances]
Emerson played for Milan for just two seasons as a depth midfielder after major spells with AS Roma and Real Madrid where he established himself as powerful ball winner. Despite, his short stay he managed to play in and win the FIFA Club World Cup in 2007. Although, Emerson did not enjoy any significant game time nor his past glory while at Milan, he remained an important part of the rotation and was often subbed on to shore up the midfield.
RAM: Rivaldo (2002-04) [40 Appearances]
Rivaldo's time at Milan was an ode to his career where he demonstrated his explosive impact. He signed a three year contract with the Rossoneri but effectively just played the 2002-03 season where he was a core part of Milan's attack that ravaged the league and the cup. He played an important role in the early stages of the Champions League but was more instrumental to Milan winning the Coppa Italia as he scored a crucial header in the final against Roma.
CAM: Kaka (2003-09, 2013-14) [307 Appearances]
Kaka was Milan's jewel in it's European revival of the early 2000s. The attacking midfielder joined as an prodigy and took Europe by storm leading Milan to the all important Champions League finals on multiple occasions and being awarded the Ballon d’Or for his personal exploits. Kaka speed, balance and strength allowed him to glide through the opposition and score wonders like his famous goal against Manchester United in 2007. His 104 goals and 74 assists kept Milan at the summit of world football.
LAM: Ronaldinho (2008-11) [95 Appearances]
The magical Ronaldinho graced the San Siro with his presence for about 2 and a half seasons where one of the world's greats lit up Milano with his flair. His first season was rather disappointing but he nonetheless brought excitement with his opening goal winning the derby against Inter Milan. His second season was a marvel as he demonstrated his fun and flowing style of play under Leonardo's management on the left wing. Ronaldinho managed 26 goals and 28 assists at the twilight of his career and partly helped Milan to the 2010-11 Scudetto.
ST: Alexandre Pato (2007-13) [150 Appearances]
Pato was a true breakout star with Milan, in his first four seasons with the club he took the Serie A by storm and was a important secondary striker supporting the likes of Inzaghi, Borriello and Ibrahimovic. Pato’s speed and finishing made him an exceptional young talent and his versatility allowed him to feature both as a striker and on the wings. Pato was unfortunately a victim of recurrent injuries and did not fully reach his potential. The best memories of the youngster have to be his 24 second goal against Barcelona and his derby brace in 2011.
Honourable Mentions: Robinho for his incredible 2010-11 season and Roque Junior for his tenacious take on defending.
Team Strengths: Exceptional individual talent, Strong yet mobile defense and numerous threats on goal for the opposition.
Team Weaknesses: Potential to be overwhelmed in the midfield.
Team Rating: 9/10 for their time at Milan. 10/10 for their career peaks.
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