By Kris Voakes | International Football Correspondent
It was a transfer campaign which had everything except a bit of direction.
AC Milan’s summer dealings were largely summed up on the final day itself. The sale of Bryan Cristante to Benfica baffled many, while the pursuit of Jonathan Biabiany also had fans scratching their heads.
When that collapsed after the Rossoneri had already announced the deal and posted pictures of the Parma man draped in red and black paraphernalia, they dashed out for a last-minute purchase of Atalanta’s Giacomo Bonaventura.
Most of what has happened at Milanello over the past three-and-a-half months seems to have happened more by luck than judgement, with the club hierarchy seemingly having no clear vision for the Rossoneri’s future.
Some of the deadwood has been shipped out, with the likes of Urby Emanuelson, Marco Amelia, Kevin Constant and Robinho having gone. Kaka was also allowed to leave after exercising a clause in his two-year contract, but it was the sale of Mario Balotelli which made the most noise.
A club openly struggling with the realities of a Financial Fair Play budget and little in the way of matchday revenue sold the Italy striker to Liverpool for a cut-price €20 million fee. As business decisions go, this hardly came from the textbook. One of their few major assets was gone, with pocket change to show for it.
The intimation was that Milan were happy to put plenty of faith in their younger players who are already familiar to coach Pippo Inzaghi, while also making the most of whatever they could get for Balotelli.
|MILAN'S MAJOR MOVES|
|Michael Agazzi (Chievo)
Jeremy Menez (PSG)
Pablo Armero (Napoli)
Diego Lopez (Real Madrid)
Fernando Torres (Chelsea)
Marco van Ginkel (Chelsea)
Giacomo Bonaventura (Atalanta)
|Urby Emanuelson (Roma)
Marco Amelia (released)
Kaka (Orlando City)
Valter Birsa (Chievo)
Kevin Constant (Trabzonspor)
Mario Balotelli (Liverpool)
Bryan Cristante (Benfica)
But the subsequent sale of Cristante, a 19-year-old midfielder who had shown more signs that most of becoming a regular in the future, suggested instead that every Rossoneri player had his price regardless of what that might mean for any plans CEO Adriano Galliani et al had in terms of purchases.
It meant that there was a slipshod approach to spending too, although their final roll call of signings does at least have a positive edge to it.
Michael Agazzi’s long-touted signing looked underwhelming even before he underperformed in a collection of pre-season friendlies, and eventually hastened a move for Diego Lopez. The Spaniard’s mistreatment by Real Madrid opened up a situation that was exploited well by Galliani to complete what was arguably their best deal of the summer.
The additions of Alex, Jeremy Menez and Pablo Armero give the Rossoneri a trio of players who are capable of big performances but who are also prone to going missing regularly too. That might also be said of loan signing Fernando Torres, while Marco van Ginkel needs a big season to prove he has what it takes to impact at one of Europe’s top clubs.
The €7m outlay for Giacomo Bonaventura is probably a little on the steep side, but the Biabiany episode – brought about by Cristian Zaccardo’s refusal to return to Parma – forced Milan’s hand somewhat. They wanted a wideman, and they knew the 25-year-old would be an asset. They just paid more than they might have done had they left themselves with more time in which to do the deal.
There are reasons for positivity. Inzaghi’s first XI looks reasonably strong when matched up against those which the rest of Serie A has to offer, while Sunday’s 3-1 win over Lazio suggested there are green shoots.
Yet the club's rapidly running out of assets to cash in on, have recorded their worst season ticket sales in decades and have lost much of its depth of quality over three successive summers.
Clever signings have been negated by wasteful outgoings and the farce surrounding Biabiany felt all too familiar for a club which has been battling to retain its status as a European giant for some time now.
Milan still have a hell of a lot of work to do if they are to get back to where they once belonged. Over to you, Pippo.Follow Kris Voakes on