Aditya Bajaj highlights that the likely departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva highlight the economic instability prevalent in Serie A...
Arrivederci Zlatan, Arrivederci Thiago. So, now that it’s minutes away from being official, the management and the fans alike really need to take a deep breath, look back at what these two players meant for the club, shed a tear or two if that helps but bid their adieus and move on once and for all. They’re gone and their departure ends the most ambiguous transfer saga of this summer, one that was never supposed to end happily for the Rossoneri fans around the world.
Ever since the sale of Kaka in 2009, Dr. Adriano Galliani has been stressing the dying financial situation of the club which has been the direct result of the economical stress that has engulfed the Italian peninsula over the latter half of the decade gone by.
A decade from now and even before that, Italian clubs were making more money than their European adversaries signing the very best players from around the world. Today, they make less than half of what the Spanish and the English sides make annually, as a result losing their best players even before they are utilized to their fullest potential with the recent transfer of budding talents like Alexis Sanchez, Javier Pastore, Mario Balotelli, Jeremy Menez and the newest addition to bandwagon, Ezequiel Lavezzi proving exactly that.
At the same time there has also been the recent tradition where in world class players, having achieved everything with their clubs, leave for pastures new citing the desire for a new challenge as the standard reason with Andriy Shevchenko in 2006, Ricardo Kaka in 2009, and Samuel Eto’ in 2011 leading the line. While Thiago Silva joins the former category with lots still to achieve in his career, Zlatan Ibrahimovic certainly belongs to the latter and quite amazingly for the second time having returned to his favourite hunting ground just after a year of his much hyped transfer to Barcelona back in 2009.Truth be told, the state of Italian football is such, that the clubs are no longer able to hold on to their star players thanks to their sky rocketing wage demands, while the sale of young players is virtually the only medium of keeping the balance sheets afloat as the vast amount of revenue their sale generates is simply irresistible.
While clubs in Spain and England are busy chalking out their targets in terms of what they aim to achieve on the football field every summer, teams in Italy are forced to chalk out plans to rescue the club from the ever worsening economic condition, with little room for some realistic targets as the managers are left with fringe players aiming to achieve the minimum objective just enough to keep them in news.
Add to that the lack of proper stadiums, and low attendance week after week all collectively draining out the Italian clubs financially rendering them toothless in the market with lack of funds. With Juventus having set an example last season inaugurating the Juventus Stadium completely owned by them and not the city council, other teams need to follow suit as the Bianconeri seem to be the only Italian club with a sound financial budget for next season.
Lack of planning at the management level and simply laying down the blame on the country’s frail economic condition will not help but only pull them down deeper into what now seems like a black hole. Udinese have one of the best scouting systems in Europe, but are forced to sell off their stars season after season as they fetch them much more than for what was invested in them initially. This being the major source of income for a club supposed to represent Italy in the Champions League qualifying next season, says a lot about the state of Italian football.
Just last week, Adriano Galliani had announced that Milan’s transfer market was closed and while this writer had heavily criticized the statement, he also stated the need to sell players to really open the market for Milan instead of closing it so soon into the pre-season. Now losing a player as big as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, arguably amongst the top three strikers in the world, and the world’s best defender in Thiago Silva will certainly deplete the squad to an average looking Italian club, but its financial significance cannot be denied. In fact this transfer saves Milan up to €150m in wages and transfer fee both combined for the two players.
Are Milan considering "retirement plans" for these two?
Ibrahimovic was on a €12m payroll which added up to around €20m after tax. Now considering the three years still left on his contract, his departure will certainly waive off a huge financial burden from Milan’s wage bill. At 30, he’s getting no younger and though he may be their best player at the moment, Milan shall never receive such high value for his transfer a couple of years from now or even next year. Calculating the implications of his transfer using simple mathematics is no rocket science and pretty much explains the motive behind Milan’s willingness to sell their talisman.
But while Ibra is still considered as a replaceable commodity, it is the transfer of Thiago Silva that will really leave a big hole in defense, too hard to fill with the lack of potent and available defenders in the market. Highly regarded as the best defender in the world, it would be highly interesting to see how the Rossoneri plan on replacing him. Phillipe Mexes is experienced but fragile, while Acerbi on the other hand is young but inexperienced. The name of Vasco De Gama defender Dede has been doing rounds for quite some time now, and if the rumours are anything to go by, he had been recognized by the Milan scouts in Brazil as the perfect replacement for Silva even before the end of last season.
Milan fans can take comfort with the fact that just until three years ago, Thiago Silva was virtually an unknown player in the European circuit before he shone with the first opportunity he got while wearing the famous colours of the Rossoneri. Today he is the best defender in the world, and fans can only hope and pray that his replacement follows his footsteps and blooms into yet another world-class defender even if it takes some time to adapt and learn. However what Milan shall never be able to replicate is the leadership of Thiago Silva.
Will Thiago and Ibrahimovic help PSG rise to the top?
The implications of this double deal with PSG, will affect each party involved very differently. While Zlatan Ibrahimovic has achieved everything domestically, with nothing to prove, this transfer might be his last ever big contract with a football club and his last opportunity to win the Champions League, a goal he shares with his new employers. Thiago Silva however, apart from the huge pay packet, may not benefit much from this as the French Ligue 1is not as competitive as the Italian Serie A and currently at the peak of his career and still only 27, he might not really realize his full potential. Perhaps a move to Spain would have been more beneficial, but now that it’s going to be Paris and not Barcelona, he will hope to win everything he had dreamt of winning with the Rossoneri uniting with the man who introduced him to European football in Carlo Ancelotti and the man who handed him his first official with Milan in Leonardo.
As for the clubs involved, with the signing of Ezequiel Lavezzi earlier last month, and with the addition of Ibrahimovic, PSG will now become a force to reckon with and with Javier Pastore and Jeremy Menez already on the roster since last season, they can rightfully boast of what can arguably be described as one of the most lethal attacks in Europe. Milan, on the other hand, need to move on, and once again open the market having already fallen behind their domestic rivals, let alone the continental ones. The need for the signing of Carlos Tevez is much more than ever before and with the vast amount of transfer revenue being generated by the double deal with PSG, they will have enough left to complete the much rumored signings of Mattio Destro in attack and Dede with Alexandar Kolarov to complete the defense.
With everything said and done, it’s time the club move on and unlike in 2009, fans will only pray that having lost their two best players in a day, the last thing Milan could do for them is replace them with the right players rebuilding the team, that has been so heavily deprived of almost all of its stars and veterans in less than three months. Milan has never been so vulnerable in its history, not during the reign of Silvio Berlusconi at least, but this mass exodus of past and current stats might just prove to be the biggest challenge he may have ever faced in his entire term as the president of Milan, one that will either destroy the empire that took him 25 years to build or make him the most loved and respected figure around the world amongst the Rossoneri faithful.
How the top brass at Milan use the money, can only be judged on the 31st of August, but this ‘double deal’ involving arguably the best striker and the best defender in the world, will either prove to be the best thing or the worst for the Diavolo.
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