Milan Desperately Need to Build Some Positive Momentum

Milan finished second, sacked a coach who was long in the tooth, and might have the best financial situation and the largest budget out of any top Serie A team. Yet, there’s no enthusiasm or traction whatsoever ahead of the formal start of the summer window. Other sides are basking in the jolt provided by their recent changes and zoomed past them vibe-wise.

The Choice for the Bench

In the end, the choice of Paulo Fonseca is underwhelming at best considering what was available on the market. He doesn’t even have the element of surprise and novelty given his time at Roma. In his first presser, Zlatan Ibrahimovic said nothing to disprove the notion that they didn’t consider Antonio Conte because they didn’t want an overly cumbersome and demanding manager. He’ll earn a lot more than their gaffer at Napoli. Still, his wages are perfectly within Serie A’s standards regarding elite skippers. The economic element isn’t much of an excuse, and he seems pretty malleable on the scheme and squad for now. Perhaps the Milan brass underestimated the other bonuses of going with a top choice, like the morale boost and the fact that he could be a draw for players.

Ultimately, giving in to the fans and not appointing Julen Lopetegui after doing a lot of homework on him is a bad look. If the management was truly sold, they should have proceeded anyway. History is littered with bosses who came in with a lot of skepticism and eventually won everybody over. They just need to look at the other side of the Navigli to find the latest example. They should have targeted somebody of a much higher caliber to justify the U-turn.

The Missed Opportunities

It’s unclear what happened with Sergio Conceiçao, who indeed left Porto after they courted him. He might not have been the perfect fit stylistically but would have come in with a better resume. Perhaps he asked for a large salary, but a coach isn’t really where you should be stingy. Or they didn’t want to get in bed with his agent Jorge Mendes. Moreover, Roberto De Zerbi has been sitting there for a couple of weeks, probably waiting for Manchester United’s call on Erik Ten Hag, which didn’t go in his favor. His release clause was a hindrance but not an insurmountable obstacle. His salary probably wouldn’t have been overly high and has a pre-existing bond with the team. Cristiano Giuntoli outclassed them to secure Thiago Motta, who would have been ideal.

The Search for a New Striker

Now that the matter of the gaffer has been settled, Milan better not mess things up in the transfer market. They aren’t off to a great start due to their inactivity but haven’t made crucial mistakes yet. Ibrahimovic announced that Mike Maignan, Theo Hernandez, and Rafael Leao would all stay put. We’ll see whether that will hold true, as the transfer market will concretely start after the Euro, but it would be a nice first step. Still, it wouldn’t be enough to make the fans happy and close the gap with Inter. It’s there but not too wide.

They have to get it right in the no.9 role. The newcomer is replacing a proven champion who was still going pretty strong and not a slouch. Olivier Giroud wasn’t too prolific late in his career but was perfectly fine for what they needed. They have two routes at their disposal. The first one is signing somebody similar who interplays very well with his teammates and shines in the other aspects of the role. That’d be the case for Joshua Zirkzee. Or a pure goal poacher who makes up for his defects by filling his boots, which is no small thing for a center-forward. There are a few foreign candidates for the second proposition.

They have other needs, but their XI is already solid throughout. This is the missing piece that could catapult to a higher level. They can’t afford gambles. If they rolled the dice with a relatively unproven player, for instance, Samu Omorodion, as La Gazzetta dello Sport suggested today, they’d have to pair him up with a proven commodity. That’d be the only way signing Romelu Lukaku, preferably at much more affordable terms than those set by Chelsea early, would make a very small amount of sense.

An Unforced Error

The stance by Milan about commissions, agents, and intermediaries might be fair holistically and even commendable from certain viewpoints. On the other hand, they should have learned about the conditions to snap up Zirkzee before getting the deal to the one-yard line. At this point, if they backtracked, the optics would be awful. All things considered, if the sums were split differently, the disbursement would be ordinary for a top-notch forward, also factoring in the relatively low salary. They should have wrapped things up quickly before foreign sides started tracking him, as other marksmen will soon begin transferring or cease to be viable options. Ironically enough, he was a very late addition to the Netherlands’ squad, which will probably delay everything. It almost feels like retribution for their mucking about. If they didn’t see it through with him, who has the perfect traits to fit right in, with the bonus of Serie A familiarity, the pressure on their execs and their next choice at the position would be incredibly high.

The Concerns about the Milan Management

In general, it feels like they are still reeling from the losses at a front office level. They didn’t bring new men after dismissing Paolo Maldini and Frederic Massara, who had their flaws and surely didn’t bat one thousand either but knew how to navigate all the troubles and tribulations. Ibrahimovic still appears and talks more like a player than an executive. He could eventually become the right frontman for the ownership, but the officials behind him must be a lot more decisive, surgical, and impactful.

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