Milan had a successful weekend on and off the pitch as the club added Zlatan Ibrahimovic to their squad, with the Swedish striker on hand to witness his new team crush the visiting Lecce 4-0. Alexandre Pato managed to score a brace setting aside any lingering doubts about his fitness, while the fourth goal was scored by none other than goal poacher Filippo Inzaghi, who continues to show his instincts in front of goal have not deserted him despite his age.
The signing of Ibrahimovic pushes Dutchman Klas-Jan Huntelaar closer to the exit door and could also spell the end of Marco Borriello’s career with the Rossoneri. Zlatan will partner the young Pato, with Ronaldinho in behind them providing probing passes and assists. Both Huntelaar and Borriello have become surplus to requirements, particularly with Inzaghi showing this week that he has not lost his scoring touch. The veteran striker scored a tremendous volley against Barcelona to level the scores in pre-season. Borriello was supposedly going to be used as part of the deal to bring Ibrahimovic back to Serie A yet such a move was rejected by both Milan and Barcelona. The Italian striker could be used to perhaps make a deal with Juventus which could see Mauro Camoranesi and Fabio Grosso join the Rossoneri along with a cash amount, allowing Borriello to move to Turin.
Shifting back the focus to the 4-0 drubbing of the salentini, the Rossoneri sent a clear warning to city rivals Inter about their desire to fight for the Scudetto after last season’s disappointing campaign which yielded a third place finish and a humiliating exit from the Champions League against Manchester United. This emphatic victory does not mean all of Milan’s problems from last season have disappeared, since Coach Massimiliano Allegri opted to start the match with a familiar lineup to the one preferred by his predecessor Leonardo, save for Daniele Bonera assuming the right-back role ahead of Ignazio Abate. The Coach kept faith in the veteran trio of Massimo Ambrosini, Andrea Pirlo and Clarence Seedorf in midfield. Those three players were thoroughly outplayed when facing bigger teams last season, while they were outmuscled and out hustled by younger, more athletic midfielders as well. Fast forward to 2010/11 season and it is rather difficult to see them address the concerns about physical strength and speed particularly as all three of them are over 30-years-old.
The acquisition of Kevin-Prince Boateng on loan from Genoa should help ease the concerns in midfield, with the Ghanaian making his official debut in Rossoneri colours inside the last 15 minutes of the match. Regardless of the concerns about age and irrespective of the poor quality of the opponents, Milan are still expected to challenge for honours this season following the addition of aforementioned Boateng along with former Nerazzurri star Ibrahimovic, who will have a lot to prove after being discarded by Barcelona. The Swede must surely be upset as he felt both neglected by former Coach Josep Guardiola and insulted at the manner with which he was offloaded on a one-year loan deal with an option to maket he signing a permanent one at the end of the season. Ibrahimovic will be out to prove critics wrong and will be looking forward to facing two of his former clubs in Inter and Juventus.
While the international break will give the Coach little opportunity to get the team familiar with Ibra and will deprive him of some key players, Allegri and the fans must be pleased with the mood in the club following the emphatic win, along with the addition of Ibrahimovic. Against Lecce, Alessandro Nesta and Thiago Silva resumed their solid partnership from last season, with both looking comfortable and showing the understanding which earned them praise last season, when they were both fully fit. Nesta eased any concerns regarding the minor procedure on his hand, which had forced him to rest for a few days while Silva managed to score as well as keep a clean sheet. The tifosi will be looking forward to the next home match against French club Auxerre in the Champions League, which could potentially feature the talented trio of Pato, Ronaldinho and Ibrahimovic. The Champions League draw has once again grouped the club with Real Madrid and the clashes between the two clubs this season will have an extra meaning to them, after Jose Mourinho joined Los Merengues from their local rivals and former Inter favourite Ibrahimovic moved to Milan.