Sunday, July 9, 2017

Farewell


So much focus has been placed on all of the new arrivals that I have failed to thank those who have left us or will likely be leaving us shortly. Not only to thank them for their service to Milan, but to thank them for making space in the squad for our new players. So it is with gratitude (in varying degrees) that I say thank you to these players, and farewell.

Sometimes dreams come true, they just don't end the way we want them to

Keisuke Honda
This one was the hardest for me. In his three and a half years at Milan, he barely ever played in his natural position. “Emperor Keisuke,” as he is known in Japan, was a beacon of professionalism. He gave respect to the number ten jersey for Milan once again. With nine goals in his 81 appearances, he will probably be remembered more for being the guy that wrote that essay in elementary school about his dream of playing at the San Siro wearing Milan’s number ten. He was the epitome of a dream coming true, even if it maybe didn’t end the way we all would have liked it to. Arigato.

Andrea Poli
Four years. We had four years with Poli, one of the players who crossed the Milan divide, having been on loan to Inter the year before we signed him. That might be the most remarkable thing about his Milan career, other than the fact that he was at the club for four years. But he was always a good guy and ready to run… and run and run. In the end, Milan agreed to relinquish his contract so he could move to Bologna. Good luck.

His tattoo says it all: Kuco is no puppy, he is a warrior

Juraj Kucka
This one was tough, too. Kuco (“puppy” in Serbian, although he is Slovakian) is a warrior. Whatever he lacked in skill, he made up for in heart and brute force. Mihajlovic called him a “tank,” and that perhaps best describes him – unstoppable and a force to be reckoned with. However, as Milan upgrades, he had to be sacrificed. The images of him leaving Milanello in tears the other day on his way to Trabzonspor were echoed in the tears of the fans at seeing him leave. We’ll miss you, Kuco.

Mati Fernandez
He was supposed to be our big last minute signing last summer, but spent most of the season injured. With only 13 appearances in the red and black, he will likely soon be forgotten. But with his loan deal up, his time at Milan is also. Thanks for the 13 appearances.

Yes, he scored the winning goal in that iconic 9 vs. 11 match at Bologna 

Mario Pasalic
This is a kid that we had our doubts about, but in his 24 appearances this season, he proved himself very worthwhile. Unfortunately we were unable to extend his loan from Chelsea or purchase him outright, because he was one of the better things to happen to Milan this past season. I’m going to guess that we haven’t seen or heard the last of him yet. Good luck wherever you land, Pasalic.

Gerard Deulofeu
He’s the loaned player that carried us through our season. Despite only being at Milan for six months, he will definitely be remembered. And though his loan from Everton was cut short by Barcelona exercising their buyout clause, I haven’t really heard fans upset with him for making that choice. Particularly considering that once Bonaventura was injured, we really couldn’t have done it without him. Grazie, Deulofeu.

We should have known it couldn't last, but we'll also never forget

Lucas Ocampos
A placeholder from Genoa after Niang left on loan, it’s hard to believe that he actually made twelve very forgettable appearances (most of them substitutions) for Milan this year. Better luck at Genoa.

Leonel Vangioni
Why. Why, Galliani, why? Why did we actually wait for the Argentinian from River Plate? And after waiting, why did we sign him? His 18 months at the club were spent between fans asking “Who is Vangioni and why is he on the roster?” to “Who is Vangioni and why is he being subbed on?” To his credit, he was a warm body for Montella at the end of the season when the plague of the injured fullbacks hit. But then again, wouldn’t we have been better off without him? Good luck with your likely move back to River Plate. May your transfer be as forgettable as your time at Milan.

Cutting off all of his hair gave him wings

Gabriel Paletta
Having served two and a half years of his three and a half year contract at Milan, he used up more than his quotient of red cards all this season, and therefore needs to leave. Having spent a year of those two and a half years on loan, it shouldn’t surprise him that he is being shown the door. But he is being as stubborn about leaving as he was about shaving his head, and that was as ugly to watch as this. To be fair, he is a decent defender when he is not so clumsy, and had a lot of breathtaking blocks and clearances between all of those red cards. I’m actually kinda gonna miss him (but not the cards.)

Gianluca Lapadula
He was Serie B’s top scorer the previous season for Pescara, and our one real purchase last summer. Yet he won the fans over, not with an immense amount of goals, but with his pure grinta. However, he knows his limitations and knows that if he is going to get any playing time, he is going to have to go to a club that is not willing to spend tens of millions on superstar players. Wherever he ends up, I can only wish him good things. Grazie, Lapadula.

Still in our hearts

M’Baye Niang
Wait, I thought he was gone already? Well, technically, he has been on loan at Watford. Now they are negotiating with Milan to buy him outright, but other clubs are interested, too. He is like that beautiful painting you bought and love, but it just doesn't really go with your decor. His career at Milan not working out will long be one of my big regrets. Best of luck wherever you land, kid. (Just as long as it’s not in a pool from the roof of a building or driving someone else’s car.)

Carlos Bacca
Will he stay or will he go? There was a big buzz on social media as fans noticed he had apparently removed all of his Milan-related pics on his Instagram account. Strange how social media now drives the transfer market news. But if he leaves, it wouldn’t surprise me, as he and Montella had some very public spats this past season, and his goal count suffered for it. Best of luck to you, Chewie. And thanks for all the goals.

He really did actually play for Milan... 4 years ago

Gabriel
I still have no idea why Milan signed him, it was such a weird deal at such a weird time. But our forever-on-loan keeper has been eclipsed by not one but two much younger, much more talented, and Italian (read: not taking up a non-EU spot) keepers. Now he will be the starter for SPAL this season, and it is great that he will finally get some serious Serie A experience. In bocca al lupo!

Alessandro Plizzari
At 17, and as a backup to Gigio Donnarumma, he had to know his playing time at Milan was going to be practically none. So it was not a shock when he was sent on loan to Serie B side Ternana. Having been decisive for Italy U20 in their bronze medal win at the U20 World Cup just a couple of weeks ago, it is a little strange to see him go to Serie B. And yet he will definitely get more playing time there. Besides, he is only 17. Despite it seeming normal to us now for such a young keeper to start in Serie A, it’s actually incredibly rare. Let’s hope he continues to develop and returns to Serie A (and maybe Milan) soon.


This post inspired by the music of The Sundays’ “Here’s Where the Story Ends”


Our next match is a Friendly
Lugano vs. Milan
Tuesday, July 11 • 19:00 CEST (1pm EDT)

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