It was a busy January for Milan, as it was largely focused on clearing the books and bringing in stop-gap solutions to add experience for the second half of the campaign.
Krzysztof Piatek, Ricardo Rodriguez, Fabio Borini, Mattia Caldara, Pepe Reina and Suso all departed. In their places came Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Asmir Begovic, Simon Kjaer, Diego Laxalt and Alexis Saelemaekers.
It wasn’t quite the star-studded recruitment drive that we would hope for, but as noted in former club chief Zvonimir Boban’s rant prior to his exit, as noted by Football Italia, the mandate was seemingly to balance the books by “making cuts and sales to lower the wage bill”.
Through a combination of short-term loan deals and experienced stalwarts who take up less room salary wise, barring Ibrahimovic, it was arguably mission accomplished as far as the club’s hierarchy was concerned.
The initial results were positive too. However, if we’re really going to aim for a top four finish and beyond next season, is turning those loan deals into permanent moves really the most sensible plan?
Experience key but need quality to match
It feels harsh to be too critical as the players named above were drafted in to do a job, and they’ve done that to the best of their ability when called upon.
Begovic has made two appearances in Serie A and conceded three goals, while Kjaer featured seven times before picking up an injury.
At 32 and 31 years of age respectively and given their lack of football prior to joining Milan, they should merely be cover options in the squad, and perhaps the experience and knowledge that they bring to the rest of the group is important.
While the pair have served their purpose in filling the voids left behind this season, and will continue to do so when the campaign resumes, there arguably isn’t enough there to suggest that they should be staying on beyond this summer.
As reported by MilanNews, via the paper edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport, there is no certainty that either will be offered new terms, while it’s also been stated that it will cost €2.5m to sign Kjaer outright.
Low cost, low wages and able to offer experience to balance the squad, perhaps there’s no harm in keeping them on. However, with Pepe Reina set to return at the end of the season and with Matteo Gabbia making his breakthrough this year, the pair are only set to drop down the pecking order if the pieces fall back into place.
If Gianluigi Donnarumma stays and Gabbia is given a fair shot next to captain Alessio Romagnoli, which in turn could mean Pepe Reina and Mateo Musacchio look elsewhere for a more prominent role if they’re unhappy with playing second fiddle, then Begovic and Kjaer suddenly become more appealing.
That said, if we’re trying to assemble a squad capable of breaking back into the top four and to compete on multiple fronts while trying to get back to the top level, there is surely more talent with more value on the market that could raise the quality of this squad rather than just looking to fill seats on the sidelines at San Siro on a Sunday afternoon.