For the eighth edition of 'Rossoneri Nation Squads’ we take a look at the Netherlands whose players were the core of Silvio Berlusconi's AC Milan and who brought European glory to the San Siro. Players such as Van Basten, Gullit and Rijkaard changed football and would go on to build one of the strongest teams of all time. I went with a 4-5-1 formation to accommodate for the midfield heavy line up consisting of truly dynamic individuals who could easily slot in anywhere across the midfield. Similar to the Italian XI, this team would have a defensive ethos buit could be deadly on the counter attack given the strength and speed of the likes of Seedorf, Gullit, Davids and Rijkaard to link up with van Basten. The players on this squad won 6 Supercoppas, 5 European Super Cups, the 2003 Coppa Italia, the 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003 and 2007 Champions Leagues and the 1988, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2004 and 2011 Serie A titles.
RB: Michael Reiziger (1996-97) [18 Appearances]
Reiziger had a terribly unfortunate spell at Milan despite his massive talent due to a lingering injury that kept him on the treatment table more than the pitch. Reiziger was a strong and quick as a RB but joined Milan during a very difficult season where the club changed managers and struggled across all competitions. The switch up from Tabarez to Sacchi hurt the Dutchman’s game time as 13 of his 18 appearances came in the first half of the season under Tabarez. Reiziger would go on to fulfil his potential at Barcelona becoming a key part of Louis van Gaal’s squad but his Milan stint was simply a stepping stone.
CB: Jaap Stam (2004-06) [65 Appearances]
Stam joined Milan after his couple of seasons at Lazio as an experienced addition to the centre back position to add depth to support the ageing Costacurta and to partner with Netsa. Stam dominated the position throughout the season and his performances in the Champions League were outstanding. Stam and Nesta kept 6 clean sheets out the the 8 games they played together throughout the UCL against Manchester United, Barcelona, Inter Milan and PSV Eindhoven. Stam’s brilliant moment for the Rossoneri was undoubtedly his goal against Inter in the first leg of the quarter finals on the way to the UCL final. Funnily enough, he would score against Inter again in the following season with another header; thus he scored only two goals for Milan and both were in the derby against Inter.
CB: Nigel de Jong (2012-16) [96 Appearances]
Nigel de Jong was easily one of the best players of Milan’s banter era. His signing was expected to be a big deal and he definitely was leader on the pitch over the course of his three seasons but he was central in a mediocre squad. Nonetheless de Jong became a fan favourite for his hard tackles, his determination and his salute. His sporadic goals were followed by his iconic salute to the Curva and it was incredible. His goal against Parma when he won the ball at the half way and ran across the pitch despite not being quick and placed the ball in the back of the net before running up and saluting the fans. It was a truly euphoric moment.
LB: Urby Emanuelson (2010-14) [106 Appearances]
Emanuelson was versatile player who somehow managed to bag of 100 appearances for the Rossoneri despite never holding down a permanent position. The youngster started off as a wing back of the left side but was later switched to an attacking midfielder, a right winger and even a second striker. He was a good utility player on the squad as he slotted in to cover for lack of depth and injury issues throughout his time but struggled to make a major noticeable impact. He did have a relatively good 2011/12 season where he featured 30 times and provided 5 assists as well as scoring 2 goals.
CDM: Mark van Bommel (2010-12) [50 Appearances]
In my opinion, van Bommel is Milan’s top mid season signing. The impact that the rabid CDM brought to the club was almost entirely a direct contribution to the 2011 Scudetto title. Milan only lost one match where van Bommel played in the league in the 2010/11 season, when he arrived the Rossonero kept 9 clean sheets out of the 14 games he started in. The fire that he brought into the squad and his determination to go the extra mile was a huge asset to the Rossoneri and his boost definitely added the necessary swagger to the side.
CM: Edgar Davids (1996-98) [31 Appearances]
Another instance of the right player at the wrong time. Edgar Davids is renowned as one of best footballers of his generation and known for his iconic look struggled at Milan largely due to his stint being at the wring time. He joined the club in 1996/97 and left in 1997/98 where Milan finished 11th and 10th respectively. He played a variety of roles across the midfield but just managed a single goal despite his tenacious play. Davids is nonetheless one of the most physically strong players who was great at breaking down play in the midfield and quite literally dominating the centre of the pitch.
CM: Frank Rijkaard (1988-93) [201 Appearances]
Rijkaard is truly an indescribable player, it is rather difficult to explain his influence without visually demonstrating his ability to control their entire midfield. His balance between the attacking and defensive phases of the game saw him play closer to a box to box midfielder than a CDM but his ability to read the game and keep the opposition away from the defence was outstanding. Rijkaard was incredibly strong which allowed him to bully midfielders but his greatest asset was his amazing decision making; the more I watch his highlights and games the clearer it becomes that he made the right decisions and that set him apart as it was extremely difficult to wrong foot him.
RM: Ruud Gullit (1987-95) [171 Appearances]
As I wrote in another segment on Gullit late last year, he was ‘the’ total midfielder. Gullit could play on his own and still marshal the entire midfield from the defence to the attack. His is one of Milan’s best midfielders in the club’s history and his exploits would include back to back Serie A and Champions League titles. Gullit work rate, speed and technique were stunning but his core talent was his elegance where he could effortlessly drive past the entire opposition and let off a poised pass to set up a teammate. Most importantly, who can ever forget his stunning brace in the Champions League final against Steaua Bucharest in 1989 to help Milan lift the cup.
LM: Clarence Seedorf (2002-12) [432 Appearances]
Seedorf is easily my favourite Dutch Rossonero just because I grew up watching him and he always had something up his sleeve. Seedorf was a trailblazer and his ability to help Milan to a Champions League title in his first year at the club and to cement his personal achievement with his third title was truly incredible. Over the years, he was clearly one of the leaders of the locker room and a delight to watch because of his insane physical attributes coupled with his refined technical ability. His pinpoint cross pitch passes and his thunderous shots were some of my childhood highlights. Two of Seedorf’s most spectacular performances for the Rossoneri were in the 2003-04 season on the way to the Scudetto against Inter and Juventus where he contributed to 6 goals across the 2 games to bury both the rivals. He scored 1 and assisted 2 in the 3-2 win over Inter and scored 2 and assisted 1 in the 3-1 win over Juve. Definitely suggest watching those highlights!
ST: Marco van Basten (1987-93) [201 Appearances]
Van Basten was a player who changed the course of football. His versatility and completeness made him a truly lethal striker who intelligence made him one of the most prolific attackers in the history of the game. At Milan, van Basten peaked but also lost his way due to persistent injury. At his peak, the Dutchman tore up defences in Italy and across Europe leading Milan to the 1989 and 1990 Champions League titles where he scored 10 goals in the UCL campaign of 1988/89 including a brace in the final. He also scored the only goal in the 1990 final where Milan beat Benfica. He exploits were rewarded with three Ballon d’Ors during his time at the club.
Honourable Mentions: N/A
Team Strengths: Extremely strong and physical midfield, Dynamic attack and Clinical striker.
Team Weaknesses: Unpredictable wing backs, High likelihood of bookings and
Team Rating: 9/10 for their time at Milan. 9.5/10 for their career peaks.
Rate the Dutch Top Milan XI.
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