Club Focus – Milan – Calling Zlatan

Milan continued their preparations for the Serie A season as they tussled with rivals Juventus for the Trofeo Berlusconi on Sunday. The encounter was decided on penalties with the Bianconeri winning following a 0-0 draw in which Milan showed once again how dependent they will be on Ronaldinho.

The Brazilian star is involved in all the dangerous moves and attacks with his incisive passing, great vision, neat assists and scoring ability. Ronaldinho is working diligently to build on last year’s promising season when he topped the Serie A charts in the assists category. Coach Massimiliano Allegri has on more than one occasion stressed he will be looking for the former Seleção star for inspiration and to make the difference. This begs the question as to whether such high expectations will translate into too much pressure on the shoulders of the playmaker, who is just two years removed from one of the worst years in his football career. Perhaps this explains why Milan’s management, including President Silvio Berlusconi and Vice-President Adriano Galliani, has been reluctant to rule out a move for Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimović.

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Adding Ibrahimović to the squad in a loan deal for the season will suit all sides, particularly the Rossoneri who will be able to add a player of supreme talent. With him in the starting line-up, Ronaldinho will be able to escape from the attention of defenders who will have to cope with the imposing figure of the Sweden international. Zlatan will add much more than scoring – such a move could translate into an increase in season ticket sales as well as a spike in merchandise sales, similar in effect to Ronaldinho’s transfer. On the field, the former Juventus and Inter striker will give the Rossoneri attack another dimension with his ability and set of skills which easily surpass those of the more static Dutchman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Marco Borriello. The latter has been linked with a move to Spain to offer cover for Barcelona’s attack, yet it is uncertain whether the Catalans would like to sign Borriello on a season-long loan. The Rossoneri would encourage such a move because they would be saving on Borriello’s wages while acquiring the coveted Ibrahimović.

There are a number of obstacles preventing such a deal from being sanctioned, such as the high wage demands of Ibrahimović and the portion of his salary which will be paid by Barcelona. Milan have affirmed through Galliani their desire to sign the former Serie A champion on loan and the move has already received the nod of approval from the Coach. Allegri has been rather outspoken about his happiness with the players available at his disposal but it is hard to see someone reject the opportunity to coach a talented player like Zlatan who is a proven entity. Barcelona will carefully listen to Milan’s proposal as the La Liga champions would probably make a move for a midfielder once they are relieved of the bulk of Ibrahimović’s steep wages. He was limited to the role of a spectator during the return-leg of the Spanish Super Cup and with the signing of David Villa as well as Josep Guardiola’s preference to use Pedro, it is difficult to the big Swede getting regular playing time.

Milan’s transfer objectives extend beyond Ibrahimović as the Rossoneri are reportedly in the midst of negotiations with Genoa, who have shown themselves as willing partners for Milan in the transfer market. The target this time will be defender Salvatore Bocchetti who might be the ideal replacement for Alessandro Nesta or can perhaps cover as a left-back. Bocchetti would offer Milan another option in the back line and his potential was evident last season.

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