Here’s the Scenario B of a summer window where AC Milan could spend 100 million euros. This team is focused on youth and trimming the wage bill. The team also looks to deal with troubled positions and refresh the entire project as a result.
Players to Release
Begovic joined on for 6 months to replace Reina in January and has only featured twice for the Rossoneri to cover for an injured Donnarumma. He conceded three goals in those two games and has not contributed much otherwise. He should be released to pave way for a younger goalkeeper to gather some minutes behind Donnarumma next season. There doesn’t seem to be a need for an experienced keeper backing Gigio at the moment and the project should promote the likes of Plizzari to deputise him instead. It would certainly save us on the wage bill. He should be released to return to Bournemouth this summer.
Bonaventura is a fan favourite and a major contributor to the team but the club do not seem to want to renew his contract. The Italy international has struggled with injuries over the past two seasons but has endured to be one of the strongest performers for the club but it is clear to see that his age is catching up with him. He is less sharp and a tad slower in recent games. The midfielder costs the club 4 million per year which is a significant saving considering Bennacer costs 3 million. Bonaventura will undoubtedly smash it at AS Roma, Atalanta or Torino but it might be good to try and find a replacement in the midfield now rather than a year along.
Biglia at Milan was an utter flop of a transfer. This is not because Biglia isn’t a top player who joined at his peak but rather his injuries took a toll and his decline was rapid. He was easily replaced by both Bakayoko and Bennacer over the past two seasons and his career at the club will fizzle out this summer. On top of that, he was on a huge wage of 3.5 million net thus given the amortisation of his transfer vale and tax, he costs Milan about 13.75 million per year (3.5 net wage + 3.5 tax + 6.75 amortisation). The wages Biglia frees up will perhaps be his largest contribution to the club as it will provide more leeway to woo the likes of Tonali and Szoboszlai.
Ibrahimovic is already a club legend and clearly brought out the best in the squad since his arrival but the veteran striker is a band aid. The club needs a concrete solution after years of misfires. The striker has picked up two injuries in the short time at the club and has been a little blunt in front of goal missing a number of easy finishes. His attitude and drive have lifted the likes of Castillejo and Rebic but I do not believe the club should renew him for another season without a clear replacement for the future. Ibrahimovic also commands a rather sizeable wage which will be incompatible with the club structure and I would prefer the exceptions to the wage caps to be used to hold on to Romagnoli and Donnarumma.
Saelemaekers was another stop gap for the January market to act as a back up at RB and RM. The Belgian has not made much of an impact but has also been used sparingly and is yet to start for the Rossoneri. He could change my mind if the season resumes but as it stands it seems better for this to be a dry loan. Milan similarly need to invest wisely for a long term solution at RB thus I believe the money is better spent elsewhere.
Players to Keep
Plizzari is touted to be the next Gigio. He came through the Milan Primavera system and was extremely impressive with them before being promoted to the first team and being loaned out. He has racked up significant game time in Serie B with his stints at Ternana in 2017/18 and and Livorno in 2019/20. The youngster should be kept at the club to be Donnarumma’s backup. Given his talent, he could learn from Gigio and be given some responsibility at the club over veterans such as Storari/Reina/Begovic.
Despite the controversy around the future of Paolo Maldini, it might be time for his son Daniel to get a real shot at the first team. The youngster has been stunning in the Primavera and is clearly a set piece specialist given his couple of goals from dead ball situations as well as his clean delivery. Milan have lacked creativity in the midfield for ages now and Maldini seems to fit desired mould. He managed to get his senior debut and a professional contract in 2019/20, 2020/21 should be the season where he makes his way into the rotation and try break into the starting XI.
Another Primavera product who deserves a crack at the first team. Brescianini has been captaining the Primavera this season as they lifted the the Primavera 2 Title and he has demonstrated he is a leader and an able regista. His play has stood out for his tenacity when off the ball and composure on the ball. He would be an ideal depth player and could be loaned out next January if he does not get any game time.
Players to Sell
Lucas Paqueta (€25-30m Valuation or Swap Deal)
In my opinion, one midfielder between Paqueta, Kessie and Benncer will need to be sold in summer. Between them I would rather keep Bennacer as a starter and Kessie as a depth player. Paqueta has a market and could fetch a good swap deal with Fiorentina as Commisso has publicly spoken about the club’s interest. In his year at the club, Paqueta has struggled to settle and despite the breadth of his talent; there seems to be an incompatibility with the style of play in Italy. Paqueta does need to tone down the flair and focus on making his passes rather than dribbling into a wall. I would gladly sacrifice him to poach one of Pezzella or Milenkovic from Fiorentina to sort out our defense.
Matteo Musacchio (€10-12m Valuation)
Musacchio is another player from the Chinese era who has struggled to cement his place. He arrived with a lot of promise to be the next long term CB but he has been easily sidelined by Bonucci and Kjaer despite playing relatively well in 2018/19. It is safe to say, the defender has lost his starting spot and would porbably prefer a move away to get some regular playing time given he is probably around his peak at 29. There is a market for the defender in Spain with the likes of Sevilla and Valencia considering him and Milan could do well to get some rebate on the Argentinian.
Andrea Conti (€15-20m Valuation – Year Long Loan + Obligation To Buy)
Conti and Calabria have been underwhelming over the past three years and their inconsistency that definitely hurt the team. The lack of quality service from the wing backs has definitely limited the opportunities for the strikers and the lack of creativity that limited the options for the team going forward. On top of that, the two right backs are quite error prone and have directly led to a number of goals of dangerous set pieces for the opposition in the past few seasons. To add on, the arrival of Hernandez has displayed the added impact of an attacking full back on the overall potency of the team’s attack thus one of them has got to go. I believe Conti has a bigger market than Calabria but is also less valuable to Milan as he lacks defensive capacity. He could fit well in any team playing with a back five (as a right back) or a back three (as a midfield wing back).
Pepe Reina (Mutual Termination)
As in the case of Begovic, I believe it’s time for Milan to move away from keeping veteran goalkeepers with high wages on the books. This is the best opportunity to bring Plizzari into the rotation behind Donnarumma and to use the money saved from Reina’s wages to ensure Donnarumma signs a new long term contract with the club. Given his age, it is unlikely for many teams to want to purchase Reina but the club could easily agree to mutually terminate his contract so he can leave and join a club where he gets to play regularly. The keeper currently earns 3 million per annum and has only played 1 game this season and 13 games over the past two years.
Tommaso Pobega (€3-5m Valuation)
Pobega was one of the breakout stars of Milan’s Primavera but was hastily shipped off on loan to gain some experience first at Ternana in Serie C and then with Pordenone in Serie B. Surprisingly, Pobega has also developed an eye for goal for central midfield as he has bagged 5 goals and 3 assists this season. The youngster can be sold off to make a small capital gain to any one of the Serie B sides or to some Serie A teams. Brescia are reportedly eyeing the midfielder and Milan would do well to sell him as there will unlikely be room for development or space in rotation for him at the San Siro.
Diego Laxalt (€7.5m Valuation)
One player who is clearly excess to requirements is Diego Laxalt, the left back has not fit in to the system at Milan and not really proven himself since joining. He has fallen out of favour since the arrival of Hernandez and was shipped off to Torino on loan. He returned when Rodriguez left but still does not seem to have a concrete role in the squad. I do not see him as a valuable depth player as his skills do not fit the system and is generally a defensive vulnerability. Similar to Conti, Laxalt needs to play in a hyper-attacking squad that is playing variations of a back three or back five where he plays as a true left wing back.
Players to Buy
Dominik Szoboszlai (€20 Million)
Szoboszlai seems to be Milan’s main target for the summer alongside Tonali and both are there with good reason. The Hungary international has been incredible for RB Salzburg in the league but his displays in the Champions League are what make his stand out. His physicality is astounding but that coupled with his great passing and vision make him a desirable box-to-box midfielder. He is also quite good at set pieces and can pick apart defences with a few touches but most importantly has room to improve as he’s just 19. The midfielder is versatile thus could play as a central midfielder or a left midfielder giving the manager multiple options. He would be my choice over Tonali purely given the cost, he is expected to cost half of what Tonali does whilst Milan have multiple gaps to fill.
Tiemoue Bakayoko (€25 Million)
Bakayoko tore up the San Siro for the latter part of his one year loan from Chelsea during the 2018/19 season. Milan were silly not to take up the option to buy the French midfielder after his dominant performances that season especially in big games such as his performances against Lazio, Juventus and Inter Milan in the second half of the season. The midfielder has been loaned out to Monaco and was not redeemed again, he is not wanted at Chelsea and could be sold cheap so the club recoups some of their money. The midfielder would make an ideal partner for Bennacer and could form a strong defensive midfield core.
Arkadiusz Milik (€25 Million)
Milik is my marquee signing for the summer window and I believe Milan should strongly concentrate their efforts to sign the Poland international. Despite his injury woes, he is a clinical finisher who has recorded an impressive 46 goals over three and a half seasons. He knows the league and still has a lot of good years ahead of him given he is just 26. Milik seems to be out of place at Napoli given the arrival of Petagna and the stalled negotiations for his contract that ends in 2021. Milik could be Milan’s striker for the next couple of years and would allow them to move past Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Moreover, Milik could thrive at Milan given the style of play is less strenuous than Napoli and would have less strain on his muscles.
Denzel Dumfries (€15 Million or Cash + Rodriguez)
Dumfries could be the most impactful move Milan make in the summer and the links have been there for months. Milan have gotten a taste of a good attacking wing back with Hernandez and now the focus shifts to the right back spot. Conti and Calabria have struggled to cement the spot and have not created enough for the attack. Moreover, Milan could do with a more physically gifted and strong right back. Dumfries has been stunning for PSV Eindhoven and will likely come with a big price tag but Milan could reduce the cost using Rodriguez.
Nikola Milenkovic (Swap Deal for Paqueta)
One of the best rumours I have come across thus far has been a swap deal touted between Milan and Fiorentina between Paqueta and one of Pezzela or Milenkovic. Fiorentina seem to need to sell one of the defenders and have their eye on Paqueta. I strongly believe Milenkovic is one of the most promising defenders in Serie A and would be an ideal long term partner for Romagnoli. Milenkovic has been a regular starter in Florence for the past two seasons and has been very impressive. He is imposing in the air, physically solid and pacey enough to track down attackers with ease. He is also way cheaper than the alternatives such as Upamecano and Ajer and also has experience in the league.
Tanguy Kouassi (Bosman)
Kouassi is an interesting proposition as he has broken out on the scene at a big club but still needs time to develop. The French youngster can play both as a centre back or also a holding midfielder following the style of PSG’s Marquinhos and Marseille’s Kamara. Milan could be a good opportunity for him to play amongst a rotation of Romagnoli and Milenkovic and perhaps play as a holding midfielder in the Coppa Italia. I believe nabbing him on a bosman deal would be a huge rout by the club given the raw talent he possesses at such a young age. He would also provide some flexibility for the future and be a foundation block for the youth program.
Antonee Robinson (One Year Loan + €10m Clause)
Robinson’s move to Milan from Wigan Athletic seemed odd in January and when he arrived for his medical, most seemed confused on why he was picked. Although, the move fell through I believe Milan should go back in for the youngster. Robinson is an affordable back up for Hernandez who was picked by Maldini. I believe there is some weight to this approach and it should be followed up with again this summer. Robinson is quick and direct and seems to have a wicked cross. More importantly, he could represent a growth in Milan’s following in North America as he is considered a prospect for the United States national team. Look at the impact of Alphonso Davies, Gio Reyna, Christian Pulisic and more.
Matias Zaracho (€12.5 Million)
Zaracho is another one of the players who was scouted by Boban and Maldini but the move was yet to materialise. The midfielder is showing a lot of promise as a versatile attacker who can play on either wing or centrally. He has 5 goals and 3 assists for Racing Club this season but was more impressive in the previous year where his side lifted the Argentinian League title for the first time. Zaracho would be an excellent rotation player who could keep Rebic, Calhanoglu and Castillejo on their toes whilst competing for a starting spot with Szoboszlai. One of the biggest errors Milan has made over the past years is not having competition for spots and this is an issue that can be addressed in the upcoming window.
Simon Kjaer (€2.5 Million)
Kjaer has been surprisingly solid since joining on loan in January. The veteran defender has been a good partner for Romagnoli and has added aerial strength to the defence and attack for Milan. Given the low cost of the buy-out, he definitely should be kept by Milan to play as a depth player and to provide some guidance for the younger defenders on the squad. Kjaer is a solid back up option who can be utilised in the Coppa Italia and when rotation is needed. Kjaer also adds a level of calmness to the defence that Musacchio never did and I believe this should be incorporated into the side next season.
This is what the Milan side could look like. The players could easily swap between a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2 formation. The team is youth focused and still holds significant experience. This is a team that could challenge for a Champions League spot! What do you think?