It was safe to say that last season was less than ideal for AC Milan, and in the summer break, they also lost a key player, Sandro Tonali, to Newcastle and technical director Paolo Maldini, both of whom were adored by players and fans alike, with the money that Tonali's departure has provided Milan, this allowed Pioli to strengthen his side such as the likes of Christian Pulisic, Rubens Loftus-Cheek and Tijjani Reinders, can AC Milan bounce back from a dismal season and make a challenge for the league title?
The departure of Tonali boosted AC Milan's transfer activity during the summer, which, prior to the transfer, was looking very bleak, but this injection of money showed to other clubs that they were serious about reclaiming the Scudetto having spent €110 million to strengthen the squad for the 23/24 season.
The addition of Ruben Loftus-Cheek adds a much-needed physicality to the midfield, which has been shown off already, having played in all four league games so far where he has been paired with Tijjani Reijnders, who scored seven goals in fifty-four appearances for AZ Alkmaar last season.
Rafael Leao has been Milan's standout player over the last four seasons as the attacking threat on the left has always been greater than the right, which is why Samuel Chukweze was brought in being one of the most exciting talents to come from La Liga having scored 37 goals in 207 games in 5 years at Valencia.
Milan also signed Christian Pulisic to give even more depth and attacking options, as he can play on either wing and has made an instant impact at the club, scoring in his debut away at Bologna, and has shown how clinical Milan can be if they have solid starting wingers on both the left and right.
Whilst they have strengthened their squad somewhat, there is still depth needed in defence as their main centre-backs are Fikayo Tomori and Simon Kjaer, and with the Champions League and then the Coppa Italia starting soon after, they will need to spend more in January if they are to have a capable squad to take them to the end of the season as league winners.
Tough Champions League Group
Milan will want to go one further than the impressive run in last season's Champions League campaign, where they were knocked out by city rivals Inter Milan; however, a chance to achieve a spot in the knockouts will be a tough ask.
AC Milan was drawn with Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint Germain and Newcastle, with PSG being most people's favourites to top the Group. Dortmund and Milan were most likely going to be the two to compete for 2nd place, and both will most likely continue their European campaign either in the Champions League or Europa League however, after the first week of games, Newcastle, who return to the competition after 20 years, denied Milan a win at the San Siro and came away with a point in a 0-0 draw, and looks as if Group F will be one of the closest.
Whilst it looks like AC Milan may struggle in what looks to be a tough and competitive group, they have already suffered an injury to Mike Maingan and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and whilst there are still 5 games so far to play, Milan will hope that their early injury woes do not carry on further into the season as that is ultimately what became part of their downfall last season.
Repetitive Tactics & Poor Defensive Efforts
The Derby Della Madonnina came up thick and fast for AC Milan in the first meeting of the season between the two Milan clubs, and for Inter, it was a walk in the park, coming away 5-1 winners.
During the match, the mistakes that cost AC Milan reared their ugly head as they completely collapsed and allowed Inter to run away with all 3 points.
A theme responsible for the derby defeat and some of last season's poor form was the lack of tactical changes, considering this was their fifth consecutive defeat to Inter, and there has still been little to no change to Pioli's tactics. something needs to be done to create more exciting football and help the team play as they did in the three games prior to the derby and, as was made obvious, will be found out by more teams if this does not change.
Utilizing Young Talent
As Milan's UCL campaign has already begun and their Coppa Italia campaign is on the horizon, the team needs to make the most of their young players like Noah Okafor, Yunus Musah, and Samuel Chukwueze. While veterans like Giroud maintain their goal-scoring prowess, Milan must also focus on integrating these young talents into the squad.
Noah Okafor has shown glimpses of his potential playing against Milan last year in the Champions League. His speed and dribbling ability make him an exciting option, especially in matches where Milan needs fresh attacking ideas. Given the demanding fixture schedule of European and domestic competitions, Okafor's inclusion can provide the necessary rotation to keep key players like Giroud fresh and injury-free.
Yunus Musah, a versatile midfielder, can offer depth in the midfield department. His ability to play in multiple positions and his tactical intelligence make him a valuable asset. Milan should utilize him to maintain a high level of performance in both the UCL and Coppa Italia, where squad depth becomes crucial in the later stages of these competitions.
Samuel Chukwueze, a dynamic Nigerian winger, brings flair and creativity to the team. His explosive pace and dribbling skills can be a game-changer in tight matches. As Milan progresses in various tournaments, Chukwueze can be an impactful substitute or rotation option, allowing the team to maintain a consistent level of performance.
Milan's success in the UCL and Coppa Italia campaigns will significantly depend on their ability to effectively integrate these summer signings into the squad. Consistent rotation and intelligent utilization of players like Noah Okafor, Yunus Musah, and Samuel Chukwueze can give the team the depth and variety needed to compete at the highest level.