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The Transition


Mercato rumors of a swap for Torres and the potential for really just about anyone to leave the club in January highlight the incredibly transitional nature of Milan since the summer of 2012. Forget bandiere, the players who represent one club for most if not all of their careers. And does anyone even remember when we had senatori, those who spent many years at Milan? The current trend seems to be that if a player makes it 3 consecutive transfer markets and is still at Milan, then he is in line for the captain’s armband. What a vast difference from the squads who won all of those trophies whom we now rest our laurels on.

Remember when talented players came and stayed at Milan and we won trophies? They are not mutually exclusive ideas.


Consider the squad from the end of the 2011-12 season. There are actually all of seven players remaining from that squad: Abbiati, Bonera, Abate, Mexes, Muntari, El Shaarawy, and De Sciglio, with the last four having been at the club a year or less at the end of that season and the first two being the current rightful heirs to the captain’s  armband by right of seniority (although I believe they are “co-vice captains.”) That point alone shows the decline at the club since 2012.

Now consider all of those who left at the end of that season (the number of years they were at Milan are in parentheses): Nesta (10), Inzaghi (11), Flavio Roma (3), Zambrotta (4), Gattuso (13), van Bommel (1.5), Seedorf (10), Merkel (2), Aquilani (1), Maxi Lopez (.5), Thiago Silva (3), Ibrahimovic (2), Casssano (1.5). That’s fourteen players. More than a starting lineup. And 62.5 collective years of experience wearing the Milan shirt, and average of 4.5 years per player.

Midsummer 2012, La Gazzetta dello Sport offered this "Allarme Milan," a photoshop of the team pic and who was leaving

Everyone knows that was considered a “transitional” season for Milan, but no one thinks about all of the players in and out since then, less than two and a half years later. So here’s a list for you (those who have both come and left the club in that time are in bold, anyone loaned at anytime is starred):

Players In:
Niang*
Traoré*
Montolivo
Gabriel*
Acerbi
Constant*
Coppola*
Taiwo*
Didac Vila*
Zapata
Pazzini
Bojan Krkic
De Jong
Zaccardo
Balotelli
Salamon*
Emanuelson*
Vergara*
Cristante
Petagna*
Saponara*
Poli
Silvestre*
Matri*
Birsa
Kaka
Rami*
Honda
Essien
Taarabt*
Mastour
Agazzi
Alex
Menez
Albertazzi
Diego Lopez
Armero
Torres* ??
Van Ginkel*
Bonaventura

Players Out:
Pato
Mesbah
Acerbi
Coppola*
Emanuelson*
Bojan Krkic
Yepes
Ambrosini
Flamini
Taiwo *
Strasser*
Carmona*
Niang*
Boateng
Antonini
Salamon*
Didac Vila*
Petagna*
Traoré*
Matri*
Vergara*
Nocerino*
Salamon*
Paloschi*
Kaka
Taarabt*
Silvestre*
Amelia
Constant*
Balotelli
Cristante
Birsa*
Robinho*
Gabriel*

These lists may not be perfect, as they were compiled between doing my womanly household duties and my freaking out about the upcoming mercato, but they should give you a pretty good idea as to the transient nature of the club. In two and a half years and spanning just five transfer windows, that’s 40 players in and 48 players out by my quick count. Or four complete starting lineups. Some were loaned out more than once during this time, and a few never even made any official appearances for the club. But too many spent less than six months in the red and black, they weren’t even really given a chance to prove themselves.

Remember this guy? He's a former youth player promoted to the first team from 2011-2013 w/zero appearances

However what concerns me most is how can management ask for any kind of consistency with such a transient squad? (Nevermind that we have also had three different coaches this calendar year.) If you look at the quality in that original 14 that left, then compare it to the quality of players that have been brought in since then… asking for consistency is like asking the team to make wine from water. And we haven’t even signed anyone named Jesús… yet, although I’m sure Galliani is working on it, scouting from that Argentine lower division club he’s suddenly in love with.

Sure, we’ve had a few quality players come into the squad, and several of them also leave in this time period. Keeping the quality players seems to be even harder than signing them. But overall, it seems like our method of operation is to put random names on a wall, give the darts to a blind guy, and let his tosses determine who we will sign. They told us money is the biggest issue, but then they drop €11m on Matri (look for his return soon if Torres leaves.) So I can’t really find any method to their madness other than panic and buy cheap and hope the fans don’t notice the difference between Thiago Silva and Acerbi.

These guys left the squad in 2012 and have both since coached Milan... in this year alone.

It’s disheartening as a fan, and it’s damned hard to buy a jersey, too. You buy a jersey with your favorite player’s name on the back, and six months later the player is gone. But it’s especially hard to find the consistency and cohesion that wins trophies when your teammates are changing faster than Galliani’s transfer statements. No wonder Menez doesn’t pass more often, he has no idea who he’s passing to.

So now we head into another mercato, another “transition” phase. We have been told that we are in a transition for two and a half years now. The rumors have already been brewing, and the deal of Torres for Cerci could be made official before I even post this. Or it could also fall through, just like the hopes and dreams of Torres’ multi-goal career at Milan. A dream that he was given less than four months to fulfill. Forget bandiere or senatori, this club is a merry go round for cheap players and free transfers, set to warp speed. So hold onto your Milan scarves, and be grateful you bought the jersey without the name on it, because there are two more transfer windows before next season kicks off, and who knows what this team will look like then?


This post inspired by the music of Madness


Our next match is a friendly
Real Madrid vs. AC Milan
Tuesday, December 30 • 17:00 CET (11am EST)