Club Focus – Milan – Will Zlatan Ibrahimovic be next to join?

Milan have completed the loan signing of former Portsmouth midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng in a rather complex process which initially involved a second Serie A club, Genoa. Il Grifone captured Boateng from the English side and then loaned him out to the Rossoneri for the season with an option to sign him on a permanent season at the end of the campaign.

There were a few eyebrows raised and a number of questions posed as to why the Rossoneri had to use Genoa in order to complete the transfer involving Boateng. Milan are obviously concerned with balancing their books and are being careful about their financial status, which means they are not looking to dish out cash prior to selling or at least loaning out players. The Rossoneri have been desperate to offload Dutchman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar yet despite speculation linking the striker with a number of clubs, no serious offer has been tabled for his services. By capturing Boateng on loan after Genoa bought his rights, il Diavolo have avoided spending a cash amount upfront to sign him on a permanent basis. For Genoa, this could be a profitable transaction since they will demand from the Rossoneri an asking price above the fee they paid to sign Boateng once the season is over (provided the midfielder impresses at Milanello).

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The Ghanaian, born in Wedding in Germany, represented the Germans at all levels up to the Under-21 side before receiving clearance from FIFA to play for his father’s country in South Africa 2010. Back in 2006, Boateng rejected the opportunity to play for Ghana in that year’s World Cup. During the last World Cup, Kevin ended up played against Germany and his brother Jérôme in what turned out to be the first international match featuring two brothers representing different national teams playing at the same time. Kevin showed his ability with Ghana and scored a goal during the Round of 16 against the United States to help the African team win 2-1 and advance to the quarter-final. He will be a welcome addition by Coach Massimiliano Allegri, who requested on a number of occasions that a midfielder be signed to fill what he perceives as a weakness in the squad. The Coach must be concerned with the aging core in the midfield with all starters over the age of 30 and some losing much of their bite.

The signing of Boateng could signal the end of Milan’s market involvement, unless Huntelaar can be sold as this would open the door for a big signing in the shape of Barcelona’s Zlatan Ibrahimović. Just as in the case of the Ghanaian midfielder, Ibrahimović would be signed on a season-long loan, except there would be no other club involved. Milan will likely pay most of his wages which could suit the club well, while the Catalans would not have to justify paying a fortune for the talented Swede to warm their bench. The Rossoneri would offer him the opportunity to play regular football and a return to the big stage since the club is involved in the Champions League. Milan director Ariedo Braida did not shut the door on the possibility of adding Ibrahimović to the squad before the start of the Serie A season (even though his agent Mino Raiola subsequently made every effort to do so), but warned this could only happen if a striker, hinting at Huntelaar, leaves the club. Braida admitted the Rossoneri are admirers of the talented striker and would work a deal to pay most of his steep wages without forking out a massive cash amount deemed to be close to €40m for his permanent signing this summer. The Catalans would still pay a portion of his salary, which would sweeten the deal for Milan, but as Braida mentioned the whole transfer hinges on the possibility of offloading an attacker before bringing in the former Juventus and Inter star.

Milan have stated on more than one occasion that Huntelaar is staying, but this could be the perfect cover for attempts to sell him and bring in another player such as Ibrahimović. By denying the desire to offload the Dutchman, Milan are protecting their asset and ensuring his value does not drop in the market. The next few days should be decisive in terms of Milan’s market strategy as other rumours, such as bringing in Juventus duo Mauro Camoranesi and Fabio Grosso, look increasingly unlikely considering the Bianconeri would not entertain the concept unless enticing options are offered in a swap deal. Allegri will be pleased to have Boateng in his squad and must feel confident about Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato, yet adding Ibrahimovic could offer another dimension to Milan’s attack while fueling even further the local rivalry with Inter. Expect rumours to keep flying around over the next week.

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