6 moves Milan need to make in January transfer window
Football fans would be wrong to think that we all jumped into a time machine and were sent back to the 1990s watching the Serie A table.
No, baggy soccer jerseys and shoes with a tucked-in tongue haven’t returned, and neither is The Rock running to call people “jabronis” (Dwayne – Mr Johnson – shouldn’t he be “jabronii” ?) But instead, Serie A did. slowly become one of the most exciting leagues in Europe. The league is enjoying a truly open battle for the Scudetto between Milan and Inter after a decade of domination by Juventus.
Milan arguably endured their worst stint in club history in the 2010s and fell completely off the radar, but he’s back and brought together a squad that gets more exciting with every game under Stefano Pioli’s leadership. They have collected 79 points in 35 games in 2020 – more than anyone in Serie A – and are finally looking to move in the right direction, but still have work to do.
With that in mind, here’s how they should use the January transfer window to keep the rebuild going and secure the title.
While Zlatan Ibrahimovic isn’t the sole reason for the Rossoneri’s rebirth, his goals and behind-the-scenes presence cannot be ignored.
He’s the man to turn to when the chips are low and understands the club – he’s also terribly good despite being literally 39 years old.
However, all good things must come to an end and Milan must prepare for life after Zlatan. Rafael Leao might turn out to be that man, but relying on him alone is not enough.
Sign a young replacement in January and let them learn as a rotation option before taking the reins in the future.
Calhanoglu’s creative powers in the final third have been crucial to Milan’s firepower this season. He has managed six goals and nine assists in all competitions in the first half of the season and appears to be a threat every time he touches the ball.
Not only that, but the Turkey international is all-rounder, a kicking specialist and has his best years ahead of him at just 26. Renewing with Milan could see him become a key figure in a potential rebirth, earning him hero status, rather than let him slip away and have to find a replacement.
Gianluigi Donnarumma, Davide Calabria, Alessio Romagnoli and Theo Hernandez form a young and exciting Milanese defense, but another center-back cut from the fabric of the top tier is needed to finish it off.
Simon Kjaer has looked in good shape since his permanent signing in the summer, but at 31 and struggling with injuries his long-term future cannot be guaranteed. Milan have the power to compete with the best clubs and must use it to complete an almost brilliant defense.
The likes of Leo Duarte, Rade Krunic and Andrea Conti all appear to be surplus to needs and can be sold to provide additional funds.
The best teams need a better goalkeeper, and Milan would be ludicrous to fall into the trap of letting go of Donnarumma.
Breakthrough at just 16, Donnarumma already has over 200 appearances in the bag for the Rossoneri at just 21, which is… well, terrifying.
His talents have been demonstrated this season and he can only get better with time. He must stay and become a key figure in their rebirth.
This depends on the third item on the agenda, frankly.
It’s too early to say whether 19-year-old Pierre Kalulu can develop and close that defensive gap alongside Romagnoli, but he is impressed in Kjaer’s absence.
If Milan sign another defender, however, it’s best to bring Kalulu into the world of European football so he can get regular first-team minutes under his belt and continue to develop an exciting start to his senior career.
Many would have predicted that Manchester United right-back Diogo Dalot would have entered Milan’s first XI when he came on loan, but Davide Calabria’s still immense performances have meant that the Europa League is often its time to shine.
It’s not a bad thing, however. His arrival added the perfect amount of competition for places and gives Pioli quality in depth; United no longer seem interested in his services, so a permanent deal could be struck on the cheap.
Get the ball rolling in January and make the move official at a later date.