Thursday, January 31, 2013

Happy Galliani Day™!

Before every Galliani Day™, or the last day of any mercato, I try to get into my doctor for a physical. I take special care to make sure my heart is functioning properly, my cholesterol level down, my asthma is in check, and any other things I can think of that might suffer from a sudden shock, good or bad, in the transfer market. And despite the fact that this mercato’s Galliani Day™ was really Tuesday, with the news of Balotelli’s signing, Milan fans may need plenty of Alka Seltzer or other acid-nullifying substance as we all hope for just a little something more, maybe in the midfield or defense. Not that we are ungrateful or greedy, just hopeful, that’s all.

This mercato has been like riding on a yoyo. Pato left, then it seemed Robinho would get his wish, too. But he didn’t, or at least not yet. So many rumors, so many players on the wishlists of the fans, and then it was Riccardo Saponaro, a young midfielder who plays for Empoli. We got 50% ownership of him, and he will join us in July. But fans started to fear the worst when the rumors came around of Drogba, Beckham, and Kaká. And while the Kaká deal was something most Milan fans secretly wanted, many of us were also wary of his age, his injuries, but most especially the cost.

So when the Kaká deal went south, Galliani gave his blessing to an unusual move: In a swap for Mesbah and a 6 month loan of Strasser, we got the 31 year-old Zaccardo from Parma. On a 4.5 year deal. Ouch. What a slap in the face. And then our 50% of Acerbi was traded away for 50% ownership of Constant. That is a deal that is hard to argue, other than it left us short one young up-and-coming center back. And amidst the celebrations of the Balotelli signing, Urby was quietly shown the door for a 6 month loan to Fulham.

Miss you both already

But, while we try to figure out what the score is on this mercato, and while eagerly awaiting maybe one more decent signing, let’s take a look at some numbers. Not worrying about the squad or the emotional side of it, just the numbers. First of all, one of the big goals in January was to decrease the squad by at least 2-3. Which we did, even if 2 players are only on loan. We sold Pato for €15m, to be paid in 3 installments. Then we bought Balotelli for 20m + €3m in bonuses, which, if I understand correctly, will also be paid in installments. So we have spent a flat €5 m, plus a potential €3m in bonuses.

As for salaries, Pato was on €4m, Mesbah €600.000, Acerbi €800.000, Strasser (salary unknown), and Urby €1,5 for a total of €6,9m in salaries (+ Strasser's) for players who left. So far, we only have Balotelli and Zaccardo coming in, with a combined salary of €4,9m + bonuses. So, if I understand all of this correctly, we have cut a flat €2m (plus Strasser's salary, less bonuses) from our wage bill.

Sorry to see this Milanista go

When you consider that shirt sales are already through the roof, and attendance at the San Siro is also expected to soar, it is not really a bad piece of business, on paper. And the probability of earning a Champions League spot for next year to guarantee the extra income is increased, too. So as much as it seemed that Berlusconi and Galliani shot themselves in the leg last year by selling Ibra and Thiago Silva, they seem to have pulled the club finances out of the nose dive it was in financially with their go to trick: buy a world class striker (whether you need one or not) and an experienced defender. Does it deviate from the plan? Yes. Are we going to regret this sometime before 4.5 years (and Balotelli & Zaccardo’s contracts) are up? Absolutely. As we always do. But the champagne is poured, now let them bathe themselves in it.

It hurts for us fans, because Ibra and Silva going was very painful and most people would feel much calmer with Silva at the back, and likely even Ibra in attack. But their wage bill was very high to sustain with FFP (Financial Fair Play), and now we are looking to place third with a much cheaper, much younger squad than last year’s squad. And despite some concerns, I really do think that this brings us closer to conforming to the new FFP rules. So on paper, despite their deviations from “the plan” or what may or may not happen on the pitch this season, I think Berlusconi and Galliani just may have accomplished what they set out to do.

Benvenuto a Milan, Mario!

Now we will see if there is anything left to reinforce the team. Management got their shirt & ticket sales back, regardless of how much Balotelli does or doesn’t play. A defensive midfielder or another defender would go a long way to ensuring we vie for that third place spot and Champions League monies next year. Less than 24 hours to seal another deal, let’s see what happens. Certainly, we have been given more than we anticipated in this mercato and are very grateful. So it remains to be seen if there is a cherry left to be placed on top of the cake today. Your move, Galliani.

This post inspired by the music of Madness

Happy Galliani Day!

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