Key players sold and no spending power
7 September ~ Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi once aimed to have the best team in the world. Throughout his tenure, players the standard of Andriy Shevchenko, Marco van Basten and Kaká became the norm for the Rossoneri but with this summer bringing (among others) Fernando Torres, Alex and Jérémy Ménez, Milanisti are showing their displeasure by staying away; only 15,000 season tickets have been sold for the coming campaign. "I think it was absolutely an important transfer campaign," said Milan chief Adriano Galliani after the 2014 mercato closed.
He continued: "We got a great keeper in Diego López, two players from PSG (Alex and Ménez), a top striker in Torres plus Michael Agazzi and [Michelangelo] Albertazzi." His optimism is commendable if a little misplaced. López is indeed a capable keeper, but Alex and Ménez will hardly be missed in Ligue 1, while boasting about a sub keeper in Agazzi and a left-back who struggled to make Hellas Verona's starting line-up most weeks makes Galliani appear delusional at best. The marquee signing was Torres, but even the most optimistic Milan fan cannot expect the forward to return to the form that blew the Premier League apart, pre-Chelsea.
As the transfer market entered its final day, one incident summed up how far Milan have fallen. Galliani had set up a deal to sign Jonathan Biabiany, a fast but average French winger from Parma. The deal was €4 million (£3.2m) plus defender Cristian Zaccardo, with the move even being announced on the club's website, before the deal collapsed because Zaccardo didn't fancy the move. Milan released a statement blaming the right-back for the failure, though as many pointed out, the extra money it would have cost to cover Zaccardo's part of the deal was surely small change for the club.
One positive for Milan is that many high earners have been moved on. Kévin Constant, Robinho, Kaká and Urby Emanuelson have all departed, none of whom came close to justifying the money invested in them (though Kaká was a phenomenon during his first spell at San Siro). The key departure was top scorer Mario Balotelli, the one player last season who provided a small degree of magic in a team lacking identity, though the sale of Bryan Cristante maybe hurt more. The midfielder, 19, was seen as the future of Milan, but was sold to Benfica for only €6m. Charles Ducksbury