Overhauling the Milan midfield


With Milan back to work to prepare for the new season, the need for a top class midifielder following the departure of the legenday Andrea Pirlo, is widely being felt. Until now, the club has been active in the transfer market: the attack has been reinforced with the arrival of Stephan El Shaarawy and the return of Alberto Paloschi, while the recently signed Philippe Mexes and Taye Taiwo will bolster the defence. It is now the midfield that needs to be improved.
Since the end of the season, veteran Pirlo moved on to Juventus and Alexander Merkel has joined Genoa on a co-ownership deal. Even Rodney Strasser, wanted by several clubs in Italy and abroad, should soon leave Milanello. Three players from the youth sector, Marco Fossati, Simone Calvano and Mattia Valoti, are now training with the first team and the former two will be at Massimiliano Allegri’s disposal for the whole season.
These youngsters will certainly help lower the average age of the midfield: at the moment only Mathieu Flamini, Urby Emanuelson and Kevin Boateng are under 30. But it will be up to Galliani and Ariedo Braida to turn to the transfer market and find a solution to the lack of creative players. As tactical revolutions are not expected, Allegri should go on with his 4-3-1-2. With Boateng still the first choice for the trequartista role, Mark Van Bommel will play at the center of the three-men-midfield, breaking up play ahead of the defence. Gennaro Gattuso and Flamini will fight for a place on the right flank, with captain Massimo Ambrosini able to cover every midfield position.
It is on the left side that Allegri likes to deploy the most creative footballers. With Pirlo and Merkel not anymore at the club, Seedorf is certainly the best suited for the role, given his ability to score goals from the midfield. Nevertheless, considered his age and the inconsistency he has sometimes shown, he may not be a regular starter. Emanuelson could be an option. The Dutchman has proved to be one of the few rossoneri with the ability to widen the play, thus helping an often static midfield to find new ways to overcome the opponent’s defence. Nevertheless, he is a winger more than a box-to-box midfielder and he is probably not completely at ease with a 4-3-1-2 formation.
It is, therefore, far from surprising that the signing of a quality midfielder has been defined as a priority by Allegri. Lots of players have been linked with a move to the Milanese club, from world stars like Cesc Fabregas and Bastian Schweinsteiger to the more realistic Riccardo Montolivo and Marek Hamsik. Whoever arrives this summer, Milan will have to continue the renovation of the midfield in the future. Galliani has stated that the aged players will be able to sign only one-year extensions to their current deals. Gattuso, Ambrosini, Van Bommel and Seedorf are all approaching the end of their careers, with their contracts expiring in 2012: the search for their successors has just begun.
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