top of page

AC Milan's Troubled Times: Struggling to Find Stability on and Off the Pitch

Since their 10-year wait for a scudetto came to an end in the 2021/22 season, whilst it seemed like one of the powerhouses of Italian football was on the way up, that was far from the truth; the 2022/23 season has been a disaster for the Rossoneri both on and off the pitch.

Poor Spending In The Summer

Milan's journey under Stefano Pioli was initially built on savvy recruitment, including the likes of Sandro Tonali, Mike Maignan, Fikayo Tomori, Pierre Kalulu, and Olivier Giroud. All were purchased after Pioli took over, coming just after Theo Hernandez and Rafael Leao had joined the club, with each of these players having critical involvement in the Scudetto-winning campaign.

Milan were expected to go again this season, and having another summer of good recruitment was assumed by many, however during the transfer window, they had multiple setbacks, the first of which was failing to land key targets in the first weeks of the window, such as losing start defender Sven Botman to Newcastle United, midfielder Renato Sanches to PSG and Enzo Fernandez to Benfica.

These recruitments most likely would have helped stabilise the club going into the 2022/23 season and made them a strong contender to challenge and win a second successive scudetto, and as a result, they were forced to make unwanted deals and many loans.

One of the most notable signings was Charles De Ketelare from Brugge, who underperformed, only having one goal contribution in 650 minutes; additionally, the signing of Divock Origi was another underwhelming performer who made a move to Milan. The Belgian was unable to have the desired impact at the San Siro, partly due to Olivier Giroud's excellent form, but also because he has been consistently played out of position.

AC Milan's Post-World Cup Form

Ac Milan's form took a massive nosedive at the start of 2023 after a 2-1 win against Salernitana on January 4th, with one primary reason being that they lost star goalkeeper Mike Maignan, who has been a near-perfect replacement since the departure of Gianluigi Donnaruma. Whilst their poor form wouldn't last long, it was enough to take them out of contention for the title as well as seeing them being knocked out of the Coppa Italia by Torino.

After the Coppa Italia defeat, they then drew 2-2 away to the bottom half of the table Lecce and then were embarrassed 3-0 in the Suppercoppa Italiana by rivals Inter before a trip to the capital where they were dismantled 4-0 by high-flying Lazio. The humiliation wouldn't end there as they would then return to the San Siro to take on Sassuolo who would upset the Rossoneri as they would take all 3 points in a 5-2 win and as if things couldn't get any worse, they were beaten in their next game 1-0 by fierce city rivals Inter Milan.

Whilst this form didn't last long, it ended any hope of AC Milan challenging closely for the Scudetto as Napoli ultimately continued their excellent run of form and created a massive gap in points between the rest of the league, making any challenge against them impossible.

Sacking Paolo Maldini

A few days after their final game of the season Paolo Maldini, an icon and legend of AC Milan, was sacked as the club's technical director, a role which he was in since 2019 when Stefano Pioli also joined the club.

During his tenure at AC Milan as technical director, he made several successful recruitment decisions, such as luring the likes of Fikayo Tomori and Rafael Leao to the northern Italian side.

But despite their top-four finish, this season's signings have been a letdown, such as Divock Origi and Charles De Ketelare, who have failed to have an impact in helping Milan retain their league title.

The meeting between owner Gerry Cardinale, Paolo Maldini and director of football Ricky Massara was said to be very tense, which saw Cardinale dismiss both Maldini and Massara; this dismissal has upset many players as well many of the Milanisti.

Rafael Leao had been highly sought after by Maldini. He was the sole reason for offering Tonalijoining the club in 2019 and signing a new contract this past season, questioning the decision with a puzzled emoji on Twitter.

The dismissal of Maldini could impact the future of many other Milan players now that he is no longer there, and has had Mike Maignan and Theo Hernandez both questioning their futures for next season, with Maignan being linked with a possible move away from Milan.

Selling Sandro Tonali

After the departure of Paolo Maldini, it looked like star midfielder Sandro Tonali's time at Milan is also up as he is heavily linked with a move away to Newcastle United.

Tonali was loaned out to AC Milan from Brescia in 2020 after being developed through their system and making his professional debut in Serie B at 17. A year later, in 2021, Tonali was permanently signed by Milan and scored five goals in 36 appearances as the club won the title in 2022.

He then scored twice in 34 appearances in the league last season as they finished 4th while making 12 appearances in their Champions League campaign before being eliminated by Inter Milan in the semi-finals.

Tonali created a remarkable 22 chances in Serie A last season as a deep-lying midfielder and was one of Eddie Howe's top targets. Initially, Newcastle aimed for Inter's Nicolo Barella; however, this was quickly stopped as they could offer Tonali a considerably lower price.

Tonali being a lifelong Milanisti, many fans believed that he was going to be the subsequent major namesake to take to the historic San Siro whilst also playing for his boyhood club, however with the restructuring that Gerry Cardinale is undertaking at Milan, the club is desperate for funds to be able to attract and afford critical players such as the likes of Raphael Leao, and ultimately are forcing Sandro Tonali out of the door.

The right processes and strategies were not implemented to solidify their position at the top of Serie A, and they even had a chance at challenging Napoli for the Scudetto. After all, they hammered Napoli in the league and eliminated the eventual champions from the Champions League.

But Milan have to be willing to fight for the top players to replace some of their ageing stars and should not settle for cheap transfers and loans to solve a long-term problem unless they can improve their transfer strategy.

15 views0 comments
bottom of page