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The Cassano-Pazzini Swap

Normally, I would do a farewell and a welcome post, but with the season opener upon us and Galliani Day™ looming near, there is simply not enough time. Besides, there is so much to talk about in trying to figure out where Milan’s next great champion will be signed from (my bet is on the MLS) as well as how to cope with Milan’s suicidal summer, so this post will have to do double duty. Which is fair, considering these players  played side by side to form one of my favorite striker pairings in recent memories, then each leaving Sampdoria for one side of Milan for a year and a half. This swap is just another part of their intertwined careers, so I suppose they are used to sharing.

Their partnership at Sampdoria left them tied together forever.

First, farewell to the one and only Fantantonio. I can never support anyone in the Nerazzurri jersey, and picturing your son wearing one makes me actually cry. But it is your dream, and I cannot begrudge you that dream.

Your time at Milan was both magical and heartbreaking. It was at Milan that you recovered from the evil Garrone and found your beautiful form again. It was at Milan that you helped us win a Scudetto and then celebrate like only you could. It was at Milan that you matured, married your sweetheart, and became a father. It was at Milan that you nearly died, and yet made a miraculous recovery to wow us just a little more before you moved on. We watched you change before our eyes from a wild, untamed creature to a wild, partially tamed man.

So many life changes while wearing red and black

But you gave us so much more than just this amazing transformation. You gave us such joy and you filled the team with smiles and laughter with your devilish pranks and silly jokes. On the pitch, you showed us why they called you Fantantonio. Breathtaking skills and amazing goals and assists. Dancing around defenders to our delight, perfect passes and crosses to bless your teammates’ stats. And all of this in such a short time, of the 18 months you were with the club, six of them you spent recovering from your heart surgery. Even if you had a bad game, the energy you brought to the team when you stepped onto the pitch was electrifying, you made everyone around you better.

The source of smiles and laughter this past year and a half

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. So much speculation as to why you left, about why your smile faded this summer, and about why you would move to our bitter enemies. But I trust that it was meant to be, and like so many of life’s most extraordinary gifts, our time with you was only momentary. You left your mark on our hearts and on the red and black jersey. Like a sudden and spectacular breakup, it will take a while to heal, longer having to see you in those filthy colors. But in my heart, I will keep the gifts you gave us and treasure them forever… or until you celebrate after scoring on us. If you do that, you are dead to me.

The team clown-turned disciplinarian, loved and respected by all

I like to think you loved us, too, and did not do this as an act of ingratitude. As much as it pained me to see you cross to the dark side, your smile is back, and that’s all I really want for you. Well, that and for you to lose both derbies this season to pay a small penance for this crime. But mostly, for your happiness. So farewell, Fantantonio. And thanks for everything, on and off the pitch. You will always be an inspiration to me.

Always intertwined, for club and country

Benvenuto, Giampaolo Pazzini! Despite our reluctance to spend so much for your arrival or depart with your old strike partner, you are a sight for sore eyes! I have watched you from afar since your magical pairing with Cassano at Sampdoria, but now you are here in the red and black. You were right not to accept the comparisons to Pippo Inzaghi by the press, but you are a predator in your own right.

“Pazzini” in Italian literally means “little crazy ones.” But Pazzini’s career was never destined to be little. Instead, he earned the nickname “Il Pazzo,” or “the Madman.” Maybe it is his ability to do the unthinkable to find the back of the net, or the fact that he will be all over the place in the box, but I will certainly not complain when he does it in the red and black.

I always wondered if he ever poked himself in the face while doing that.

Giampaolo Pazzini started his senior career with Atalanta for two seasons. Oddly enough, he had started as a left back (and now the wisdom of the swap comes to the forefront!) but made the switch to striker, scoring 12 goals in 51 appearances. From there, four seasons with Fiorentina. This is where he got to know Montolivo quite well, and their chemistry off the pitch should also revive their former chemistry on the pitch.

Oddly enough, it was our very own Gilardino who pushed him out of the starting lineup at Fiorentina, which sent him to Sampdoria for a legendary two years. It seemed as if he and Cassano could finish each other’s sentences, it was so beautiful to watch them together. The hunter and the decoy, but you never knew which one was going in for the kill. It’s such a shame we couldn’t see them together again, but the finisher in that pairing is now ours, something we definitely needed. And did I mention the man knows how to use his head? We certainly need that, too.

"What are you going to do? I don't love the jersey, it just pays the bills."

After Garrone’s late midlife crisis that saw him singlehandedly destroy his own club, Pazzini was begrudgingly on the auction block. There he was stolen by Inter, where he was neglected and abused, as is their custom to do with truly talented players. After a year and a half, 50 appearances (many of which were merely substitutions,) and only 16 goals, he was frozen out by Stramaccioni this summer and waiting to be saved.

That is where Milan came in. Like we have done for talents such as Pirlo and Seedorf in the past, it is my hope that our rescue mission pays dividends both ways. Despite his “snake eyes” celebrations (which he did long before joining Inter,) it shouldn’t be tough to get the cold-blooded Nerazzurri filth out of him and restore his massive goalscoring ways. Just don’t let him take penalties against Udinese.

Welcome, please don't let the Collar of Doom™ strangle you.

He chose the number 11 jersey, recently vacated by some very big shoes to fill. But I don’t think he’ll be intimidated by that at all. In fact, maybe he’s planning his revenge on the dark side of Milan by eyeing the capocanonniere, too. But even if his plans aren’t as lofty, I’m sure he’ll make us proud and give us something to cheer about this season. Heaven knows we need that.

So welcome, Pazzini! You are joining a club who wants and needs your passion and goalscoring prowess. Just a few tips… don’t go to the Bunga Bunga parties, and don’t piss off Allegri. Other than that, I’m sure you’ll do just fine.


This post inspired by the music of NIN


Our next match is
Milan vs. Sampdoria
Sunday, August 26th • 18:00 CEST (12noon EDT)