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Rossoneri Nation Squads: AC Milan Top XI of The Rest of the World Internationals

Our new series! A look at the best possible starting XI’s of AC Milan players based on their nationalities.

For the sixth edition of the 'Rossoneri Nation Squads’ we compiled an eleven of players from the Rest of the World (ROW). The geographical boundaries are crafty to say the least but this was needed to complete the squad. As such, the ROW includes Asia, Australia, Oceania, Some Eastern European countries and others select countries such as Norway and Turkey. I picked a 3-4-3 formation as they were more noteworthy attackers than defenders from the players available and there was potential for a somewhat robust attack with this formation. Funny enough, the formation features some of Milan's best ever players such as Shevchenko, Savicevic and Kaladze but also some of their most forgettable such as Merkel, Nilsen and Davala. The players in this squad won the 2003 Coppa Italia, 5 Supercoppas, 3 European Super Cups, the 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 2004 and 2011 Serie A Titles and the 1994, 2003 and 2007 Champions Leagues.

GK: Zeljko Kalac (2005-09) [56 Appearances] - Australia

Kalac spent four years at the club after joining on a free transfer from Perugia. He was Dida’s back up throughout his time at the club but managed some key cameos. Many of us will have forgotten that Kalac played a key role in the 2006/07 Champions League campaign keeping crucial clean sheet in the first leg of the round of 16 game against Celtic making some acrobatic saves to give Milan a slight advantage. Kalac featured most in 2007/08 season when Dida had a back injury and kept 10 clean sheets throughout the season.

CB: Cosmin Contra (2001-03) [44 Appearances] - Romania

Contra effectively played a single season with AC Milan in 2001/02 where he featured as a regular starter due to his versatility and the injury crisis at the club. Contra featured as a centre back, a right back and even a right midfielder. The Romanian was a standout performer in the derby against Inter Milan that season where Milan won 4-2; Contra came off the bench to score a stunning golazo from outside the box and soon after provided as he scored a stunner and provided the assist for Filippo Inzaghi with a pinpoint cross.

CB: Kakha Kaladze (2000-10) [284 Appearances] - Georgia

Kaladze should be a role model for Milan’s players. His mental strength and his resilience should be studied by players because he fought battles both on and off the pitch and became one of Milan’s top defenders despite the ridiculously high competition at the time. He is one of my personal favourites at the club because of his reliability and his tough nature. Kaladze’s influence on the game can only be truly understood by watching his sold out farewell game in 2013. One of the most memorable moments of him was his spectacular volley to beat Inter Milan in 2005-06 late in the second half.

CB: Steinar Nilsen (1997-98) [7 Appearances] - Norway

Nilsen joined the club from Tromso to add depth to the defence. He was rarely included in the squad during his single season at Milan and left for Napoli in the summer. One unfortunate statistic featuring Nilsen is that the Rossoneri never won a league game that he featured in with 3 losses and 2 draws. He did win both the Coppa Italia fixtures he played in. Significantly he managed to score a goal in Milan’s 5-0 hammering of Inter in the first leg of the quarter finals; Nilsen blasted a free kick from about 30 yards out into the bottom left corner for the fifth goal of the game.

CDM: Rade Krunic (2019-Present) [11 Appearances] - Bosnia and Herzegovina

Krunic joined Milan this season as competition for Franck Kessie from Empoli but has struggled to convincingly fight for his place. The midfielder has shown flashes of brilliance where he could be an effective box to box midfielder especially given his good technical ability but he has not has enough time to make a mark. The future for Krunic seems to be as a depth player to cover for the likes of Bennacer, Kessie and any future players who are brought in. His one camera moment this season was the assist he provided to Giacomo Bonaventura for the equalising goal against Napoli.

CDM: Alexander Merkel (2010-12) [13 Appearances] - Kazakhstan

Merkel was one of Milan’s failed youth projects. The bright prospect was promoted to the first team after a strong season with the Primavera. When he joined the first team mid season he almost immediately made a fantastic impression in the Coppa Italia against Bari where he managed to provide an assist and score a goal in just his second senior team appearance. Unfortunately, those would be his only contributions to the side. He struggled to break back into the first team and was later sidelined by a major knee injury that led to his departure from the club.

RM: Umit Davala (2001-02) [13 Appearances] - Turkey

Davala had a tough time at Milan as he joined the club to follow his manager and fellow countryman Fatih Terim to the San Siro. But half way through the 2001/02 season Terim was fired and Davala lost his place under Carlo Ancelotti to an ageing Albertini. Davala was solid central midfielder who was able to transition the play well and provide cover for the defenders. He would later rise to fame in the summer of his departure with his national team at the 2002 World Cup for some great performances.

LM: Dejan Savicevic (1992-98) [144 Appearances] - Montenegro (Yugoslavia)

Savicevic is easily one of the most influential attackers in Milan’s history and a true game changer in the footballing world. His versatility allowed him to play almost every role across the attack including LW, RW, ST, SS, CAM, RM and LM. He laid the groundwork for modern attackers with his blend pace and agility as well as the penchant to cut back in from the wings. Savicevic was never a major goalscorer but his movement on and off the ball created opportunities for everyone around him. Savicevic’s best campaign was perhaps the 1994 Champions League run where he scored three and assisted four on the route to the final where he scored scored one and assisted another in the 4-0 demolition of Barcelona in the final.

RAM: Keisuke Honda (2013-17) [92 Appearances] - Japan

Honda joined Milan in 2013 and was expected to boost the club’s reach in Asia, he was certainly considered to be a superstar for Japan given his exceptional performances for the national team. At Milan, he was often played out of position on the wings despite being a natural trequartista. His lack of pace was exposed and his technical ability questioned thus he struggled to make as much of an impact as expected. He did score some fantastic free kicks during his time and provide quite a number of assists from corners.

LAM: Hakan Calhanoglu (2017-Present) [116 Appearances] - Turkey

Calhanoglu is one of the results of Milan’s Chinese era where the talented midfielder was brought in to revive the club. He did not. Calhanoglu is perhaps one of the most inconsistent and unpredictable players on the squad given his deep talent trough. He has the ability to score screamers such as his goal against Arsenal at the Emirates and his stunner against Bologna in his first season. However, his brilliance is often overshadowed by his mistakes in the form of wayward shots, haphazard passing and inexplicable decision making. The Turk is still an important player as evidenced by his match winning performance against Torino in the Coppa Italia but direly needs to be consistent.

ST: Andriy Shevchenko (1999-06, 2008-09) [322 Appearances] - Ukraine

Shevchenko is easily one of the best players in the history of Milan. The striker revolutionised Milan’s attack and led the side to some of the best seasons especially the 2002-03 Champions League run. He is still the all time top scorer in the derby della Madonnina and is the clubs all time top scorer in the Champions League tied with Inzaghi. Shevchenko even managed to win the Ballon d’Or in 2004. Shevchenko will always be remembered as a prolific goalscorer with his 175 goals whose pace and positional sense allowed him to take advantage of even the smallest gaps in the opposition.

Honourable Mentions: N/A

Team Strengths: Technically gifted attack, Agile midfielders on the wing and long range threat on goal.

Team Weaknesses: Lack of pace in the defence, Lack of strength in the midfield and Lack of composure amongst the central midfielders.

Team Rating: 4.5/10 for their time at Milan. 6.5/10 for their career peaks.


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