Milan were busy through January on the transfer market, as they completed 11 deals in total in an attempt to improve the squad and the financial position of the club.
Coming off the back of that heavy defeat to Atalanta prior to Christmas, things looked relatively bleak at the start of the month as it looked as though things would unravel further.
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However, having gone on a six-game unbeaten run which includes winning our last five on the bounce, that has not only put us back in the picture for fourth spot in Serie A but we’ve now advanced to the final four in the Coppa Italia.
In turn, things are looking much more positive and there is more optimism. While things on the pitch have been going well though, have we had a successful month off it in the transfer market?
The man speaks for himself as in five games since his return, he has proven that he’s more than capable of still offering something and playing a significant role.
Ibrahimovic, 38, has two goals in those five outings and had his finishing been a little sharper in the last fortnight, he would have doubled that tally.
Nevertheless, it’s his overall influence and impact aside from the goals where he is proving to be crucial already, as the younger players around him are listening and hopefully learning in order to deliver both short-term and long-term results.
As per the club’s site, he has signed a short-term deal until June and is essentially just a replacement for Pepe Reina after his exit to ensure we have enough depth in the goalkeeping position.
Gianluigi Donnarumma will remain first choice across the league and cup from this point onwards, and so if he is called into action, it’s a pretty useful option to have given his experience and quality between the posts.
His deal differs slightly to that of Begovic, as the club confirmed that he is on loan until the summer, but we do have an option to turn it into a permanent switch at that point.
On the basis of his impact thus far, it looks likely that we may well end up exercising that option, but there have been worrying weaknesses exposed at times and at 30 years of age, he doesn’t seem like a long-term solution.
With Mattia Caldara moving on though, it was arguably a wise move just to bring in an experienced head to help fill that void.
Another smart if not extravagant move from the Milan hierarchy. Initially, the plan was to sign Antonee Robinson from Wigan but as reported by BBC Sport, the deal fell through on deadline day.
Essentially all Milan really need at this stage is a capable back-up option for Theo Hernandez who has firmly established himself in the left-back role.
Laxalt can provide that even if it is just for a few months, and so Milan have perhaps saved themselves a bit of money in the process too.
This addition is a step into the unknown for many as it’s simply impossible to predict whether he will endure an underwhelming stint and head back to Anderlecht or prove his worth and show real potential to be able to play a long-term role at Milan.
As per the club’s site, the 20-year-old has arrived on loan with an option to buy, and while there is clearly talent there, it remains to be seen if he can take that step up and deliver at the top level.
It’s another sensible and much-needed swoop from the Milan hierarchy as with Suso moving on, it was important that we brought in a player to help provide cover and push Samu Castillejo for a starting berth.
Saelemaekers will be out to do exactly that, and time will tell how he fares.
Similarly to Begovic, the Spanish shot-stopper has joined Aston Villa on loan for just six months and so we can expect to see him back in the summer with a year still left on his contract.
Given his lack of playing time, it was perhaps to be expected that he would push for a move elsewhere as his quality still demands it, whereas his replacement is arguably more content in playing a back-up role.
His injury nightmare ruined his stint with us as he made just two appearances in a Milan shirt and so it appears as though it was just a case of closing the book on that particular chapter, and starting afresh back in Bergamo.
It’s still hugely disappointing when reflecting back on Milan’s decision to let him go particularly in January as given he was reportedly just coming back to full fitness, we could have afforded him another few months to prove his worth.
That said, it was simply one thing after another and perhaps all concerned agreed that it was time to call it a day. Time will tell if we live to regret this one, but we’ve shored things up well in recent weeks.
No-brainer to get the Swiss international off the books as he is simply too experienced and expensive in terms of his wage to just be sitting on the bench as a back-up option for Theo Hernandez.
In turn, there are no issues on this particularly deal as even before losing his place in the XI, there were frustrating limitations in his game that were an ongoing concern.
Another player deemed surplus to requirements, it’s another decent chunk cut from the wage bill without losing an individual who had even played that much this season.
We should always commend him for his work ethic, commitment, dedication and determination as the versatile Italian ace did a good job for us as our utility man.
However, it was seemingly time to move on and it was the right call to offload him this month.
A real shame to see his time at Milan come to an end in the way it did as his struggles on the pitch were resulting in a negative response from fans both at the stadium and online.
While he was our chief creative spark for years and helped us through some difficult times, it’s about what can players offer right now. With just one goal and two assists in 17 games, it is perhaps time to go.
The frustrations with Suso were never going to disappear quickly, and so it seems the hierarchy believe that we need more in that department if we are to get back to the top. It’s hoped there are plans for a marquee replacement at some stage, but Samu Castillejo’s form in recent weeks perhaps made it an easier decision too.
Further, given Suso joined us on a free, any transfer fee received if his loan move becomes permanent would provide Milan with a healthy cash injection to boost our off the field priorities.
From our prolific ‘gunslinger’ to a one-season wonder in the space of 12 months, it was an up and down stint for Piatek as a Milan player and it ended this month after his move to Hertha Berlin.
While he was struggling to rediscover his best form, Milan were simply not playing to his strengths to allow him to become that clinical frontman again.
In order to do that, we’d have to adjust our system and style of play just to suit him, and while that may have delivered results at times, it wasn’t consistent enough to warrant that level of faith.
Coupled with Ibrahimovic’s return, Rafael Leao’s partnership with him and Ante Rebic’s turnaround, it arguably became an exit that we could deal with.