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Another Impoverished Mercato



Leonardo’s press conference the other day was another slap in the face to the reality of Milan’s January mercato. While fans have been dreaming of epic signings and googling how many billions the Elliott Fund are worth, the stark reality is that Leonardo and Maldini are in the vice grip of FFP (Financial Fair Play.) Their hands are tied and despite having access to extensive financial resources, Milan are looking at another impoverished mercato.

Please let them be smarter than that...

Milan fans are used to this kind of business. First, after Galliani ran Milan into the ground with his “free” transfers, we suffered as Berlusconi stopped investing at all in the club. Virtually every mercato after the Senatore left in 2012 was a “we have to sell before we can buy” mercato, most notably the sale of Ibra and Silva to Leonardo PSG that summer for about €65m. Fans waited breathlessly for that money to be reinvested in the transfer market, and are still waiting all these years later.

It went downhill from there, with Galliani spending too much on players from Preziosi’s Genoa, and not enough on players we actually needed. The club was in the red every year, getting steadily worse through 2014-17, before Berlusconi finally sold the club. And that irresponsible business management is why UEFA turned their evil FFP eye to the club in the first place. It is for those last three years of expired boxed champagne football that we are being punished for now with sanctions that are heftier than other clubs whose books were similar or worse.

So many years of begging for players

With a splash of cash from the suspicious Yonghong Li, Milan bought twelve new players in the summer of 2017. But it was like offering a starving bear a cracker because our squad had been so bare for so long. And when his even more suspicious resources began to fail, our mercato last January was nonexistent. I can’t wait to see the size of the hammer UEFA brings down on Milan for the Chinese era. We’ll be relegated to the MLS and will have to sell popcorn door to door to fund any new player signings.

When Elliott Management took over this past summer, there were so many complications that delayed Milan from doing anything in the mercato at all. In addition to the takeover and all of the details before that became official, UEFA handed down a ridiculous ban that was then appealed to the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport.) By the time everything was straightened out, Leonardo and Maldini were able to make some small miracles happen, but mostly by sales or swaps of existing players. They would be the first to tell you that this is not how to build a team.

Getting rid of Montolivo and his €2.5m in wages would actually be like a new signing

After a mercato where their hands were forced, Leonardo and Maldini set out to actually rebuild the team. They scouted and purchased Lucas Paqueta from Flamengo in October. However UEFA sent them a warning letter regarding this purchase, and have since handed down our sanctions after being reproved by the CAS. With this knowledge, the €30m Fassone is seeking in damages, and knowing that Gazidis will not be able to change our income level overnight, let alone this season, Milan have no choice but to sell first, and then hope to bring in players that are not Montolivo… er… I mean players that will improve our side and build the team we want.

So we are back to the Galliani classic, sell first and maybe bring in “free” transfers. Like Reina and Strinic, Mirabelli’s last “gifts” to the club, who actually cost Milan agent fees. Many fans have a lot of trust in Leonardo and Maldini and assume that they will automatically bring in better players because they don’t do business while singing and drinking and riding bicycles. But they have the same restrictions, thanks to Galliani, that he had. And our rebuilding gets put on hold yet again. So don’t get your hopes up for any great signings. We’re in for yet another impoverished mercato.


This post inspired by the music of Charles Strouse & Martin Charnin’s “It’s A Hard Knock Life”