Il Diavolo owner Silvio Berlusconi has stated that he will not be selling the club amid increased speculation he will be forced to find a buyer following the hefty fine imposed on one of his holding companies. The intense rumours of interest from Albanian oil magnate Rezart Taçi and, to a lesser extent, some Arab investors have raised the question of whether the Berlusconi era in Milan will come to an end soon. The tifosi will certainly not object to this despite the phenomenal results and plethora of major titles that have filled the San Siro outfit’s trophy cabinet in the last two decades.
Fininvest, the company that owns the Milan shares, and is one of Berlusconi’s holding companies firmly denied any of the speculation relating to the sale of the club. An official statement was issued via the website stressing that the club will not be put up for sale. The reports claiming Milan will be sold reached a peak a few days ago when a number of Italy’s leading papers mentioned that the Albanian tycoon Taçi is willing to place a bid to purchase the Rossoneri. The situation regarding Milan’s ownership has created further chaos for an outfit that is already reeling from Coach Carlo Ancelotti’s departure and Brazilian hero Kaká’s sale to Real Madrid.
On the transfer front, the situation seems to have calmed down following a number of reports linking the club with full-backs Rafinha and Royston Drenthe. The return of England international David Beckham seems inevitable, with playing time becoming quite crucial for the player since the World Cup is fast approaching and Coach Fabio Capello made it clear that a call-up will only materialise if the former Manchester United midfielder plays regular football and stays in shape. The LA Galaxy star is expected to return once the January transfer window begins in a move reminiscent of last year’s deal which saw the Englishman perform admirably for the Rossoneri. In another brief, yet telling event, Milan’s management gave goalkeeper Marco Storari a two-year extension to his current contract, which can effectively see him play the rest of his career with the San Siro outfit.
In more interesting news, the case of Brazilian Adriano, the former Inter striker, seems to be approaching an end as Milan’s director Ariedo Braida denied that his trip to Brazil was designed to check on the 27-year-old. At least the club and the players will not have to deal with the Adriano rumours for the next few months. It is highly doubtful that the Rossoneri will be willing to gamble on another Brazilian forward with his fellow countryman Ronaldinho causing controversy due to his poor form on the pitch and his partying and various extracurricular activities off it. Once considered the world’s best player, Ronaldinho is a shadow of the magnificent levels of the past and it is unlikely that he will recover or even come close to his heydays with Barcelona. Coach Leonardo must take a more stern approach and not only encourage the fining and the snubbing of the Brazilian player during the big games, but also threaten to place Ronaldinho on the transfer market unless he works on getting his act together. Last season he showed flashes of brilliance on occasions before he went back to his old ways, spending considerable time out enjoying the nightlife.
While Ronaldinho is unlikely to survive beyond this season with il Diavolo, defensive guru Alessandro Nesta continues to improve and provide an assured presence against opposition strikers and stars. Nesta is working diligently towards getting back to his best and recapturing his unbelievable form during a successful spell which included starring in the Champions League when Milan conquered Europe a few years ago. Besides Storari and Nesta, perhaps only Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf has contributed positively to the campaign so far. The rest of the roster seems to be inadequate and too limited to help the club launch a strong assault for the Serie A title.
With the international break ruling out any domestic games, Leonardo has the time to bring the players together, motivate them and ask them to perform to their best in order to save the season. One good piece of news is the possible return of Marco Borriello, who is expected to feature at some point during the clash with Roma next weekend. With the Rossoneri strikers struggling to find the back of the net as of late, Borriello’s return will be a welcome relief due to the dwindling number of first-team strikers available for the Coach to pick from. The meeting with Roma must be used as the measuring stick to define whether Leonardo can succeed or if he will be sacked in case the club continues to lose.
Milan Club Focus 2009/10
Pre-season expectation – August 18, 2009
Leonardo breathes as Brazilians relieve pressure – August 25, 2009
Kaka returns to the San Siro – August 27, 2009
How to play 4-3-1-2, a lesson from their rivals – September 1, 2009
Reshuffle the current squad, regain the winning mentality – September 4, 2009
International week (Georgia-Italy, Italy-Bulgaria)
Leonardo’s time to react – September 7, 2009
Livorno springs opportunity to end crisis – September 11, 2009
Serie A slides down priority list – September 15, 2009
Leonardo lurches into decision-making territory – September 18, 2009
Off the pitch rumours continue to swirl – September 22, 2009
Old legs cannot win forever, will Berlusconi follow in Della Valle’s footsteps? – September 25, 2009
A powerhouse that no longer strikes fear – September 29, 2009
Time is running out to save il Diavolo’s season – October 2, 2009
A draw as bitter as a defeat – October 6, 2009
The club is not for sale – October 9, 2009