The January transfer window has seen a shift in strategy from the Milan hierarchy. From prudent additions to high-profile exits, it’s been an interesting few weeks.
It began with the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a swoop that has been fruitful already as the 38-year-old has two goals in five games and the Rossoneri are unbeaten in our last six outings since he re-signed.
Asmir Begovic and Simon Kjaer arrived in mid-January, with the former adding depth to replace Pepe Reina, while the latter has filled the void left behind by Mattia Caldara and has immediately slotted into the backline as a starter while Mateo Musacchio has been sidelined.
It could be argued all three moves have been made with a short-term mindset and they have their flaws, but the immediate results are there to see and it’s gradually dragging us back into contention for a possible top-four finish in Serie A this season coupled with silverware in the form of the Coppa Italia.
In addition to the two exits mentioned above, Fabio Borini also moved on to join Verona, and so it seems as though the Milan hierarchy are quietly trimming the squad and wage bill while bringing in short-term solutions both on and off the pitch.
According to MilanNews.it, we may well bring in a further €47m+ before the transfer deadline as Suso, Krzysztof Piatek and Ricardo Rodriguez are all on their way out of the club. €20m or more of that will come from Suso’s move to Sevilla if it becomes permanent, while Piatek will fetch €27m plus bonuses if he seals his move to Hertha Berlin.
Big risk or prudent planning?
On one hand, it could be argued that Milan are green lighting an exit for a player in Suso who carried the team on countless occasions in recent years, with his creative influence crucial in the final third.
Further, some may believe that the Spaniard isn’t the root cause of the problem in the current squad as perhaps the lack of quality around him has ended up forcing him out of the club, coupled with the criticism and scrutiny that he has received from supporters in recent months as his form has dipped.
For Piatek, he’s gone from our prolific ‘gunslinger’ to a lost cause in the space of 12 months as his struggles this season have seemingly resulted in all confidence being lost in his ability to be a long-term and consistent solution up front.
Rodriguez is undoubtedly the easiest deal to comprehend as he’s simply too experienced and arguably too expensive to keep as a back-up option to Theo Hernandez, who has made the left-back position his own this season.
In contrast though, there is an argument in favour of cutting both Suso and Piatek.
Suso, Piatek exits will split opinion
Suso deserves our respect as fans, as he did play a vital role for us through our struggles over the last few years. However, it could be argued that he simply hasn’t taken his game to the next level to put himself in the conversation as an elite talent.
— TeamMilanVideo (@Team_MilanVideo) January 29, 2020
For a player who has such an important role for us, he regularly fell short and with the limitations in his game, Milan surely need more in order to get back to the top.
Things have undoubtedly unravelled further this season as he has lost the support of many fans, including the Milan faithful in San Siro each week, and so perhaps a split at this stage is best for all concerned.
That said, we wish him well at Sevilla and if he does prove his class back in Spain, he should be lauded as things simply need to change at Milan and given our form without him in recent weeks, it shows we can now live without him when we’ve perhaps struggled to prove that in the past.
Piatek’s exit is a little more difficult to digest given his impact last season and his popularity during that goalscoring run.
When you think back to the prolific finishing he displayed, a striker simply doesn’t lose that talent. He’s still only 24 years of age, and so it just seems like an overreaction at this point to cut a player who is going through a concerning slump.
— TeamMilanAC (@TeamMilanAC) January 29, 2020
Given his characteristics and strengths in terms of his ability to play off the shoulder of the last defender and attack space in behind backlines though, it may well be a case that he is too limited and isn’t capable of leading the line in the way in which we need our frontman to as we have to play to his strengths to get the best out of him.
Ibrahimovic is perhaps laying down the blueprint again in terms of what we need in a centre-forward, while Rafael Leao’s potential and Ante Rebic’s resurgence have surely been key factors in the decision to allow Piatek to move on.
It’s a real shame to see him leave, but with other more well-rounded options at Stefano Pioli’s disposal for this season at least, it’s perhaps understandable as to why Milan have reached the decision that they’ve made.
The Milan hierarchy are making swift, no-nonsense decisions this month. They’ve served us well so far, but time will tell if we’ve got enough to achieve our objective this season and whether or not it’s perhaps paving the way for an important summer in the transfer market too as there will surely be more flexibility afforded to them to improve the squad and replace these outgoing stars.
Without doubt though, it will be disappointing to see this particular pair move on and time will tell if it proves to be a mistake.