AC Milan are infamous for instability ever since Massimiliano Allegri left the club after the 2012-13 season. Since then, there have been changes in players, ownerships and managers in a frantic way. They come and go and reflect the lack of plan at the club. The recent situation does scream of that but there is something positive about it too. You don’t need to look at the latest sports insights to understand that Milan are not in the greatest shape.
The club finds itself in a European battle currently. They are seventh- only three points behind Napoli and are in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia. Things have improved from where they were when Stefano Pioli first took over. But for Milan, there are always two things to look at.
Fabrizio Romano recently confirmed that Paolo Maldini and Zvonimir Boban are set to leave the club. This is another restructure of the backroom staff- something that had happened as recently as this past summer. Before that, it took place in the middle of the last season when Elliot Management had taken over from Yonghong Li.
That, in itself, shows unstable the club has been. This time around, former Arsenal and current Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis has some ideas up his box. He wants someone who can be the manager and control transfers- like Arsene Wenger often did. That is why talks are underway with former RB Leipzig boss Ralf Rangnick.
Rangnick is known to be an exceptional spotter of talent. He helped the Red Bull clubs sign Erling Haaland, Sadio Mane, Timo Werner, Dayot Upamecano, Ibrahima Konate and many talented players during his time at Leipzig and Salzburg. He’s currently working for RB in South America- helping them spot talents in that part of the world.
Milan have a history with South American players. Kaka, Ronaldinho, Cafu and many South American players have made a name for themselves at the rossoneri. The recent examples like Lucas Paqueta have been failing. That is another aspect that Rangnick will re-evolve.
With him having control over transfers, Milan’s recruitment will improve. They will have his usual 4-4-2 identity that relies on pressing and vertical passing. He brings certainty to the plate and is known to be a very intelligent football man. Milan do need that currently and recent historical evidence shows that they could make do with footballing brains.
But that does come with a disadvantage. Rangnick maybe an exceptional spotter of talents. But the clubs he has been at are known to be selling clubs too. Mane was sold by Salzburg under Rangnick’s rein as sporting director. And his CV is also littered with selling players.
That should be a red sign for Milan, who have players like Alessio Romagnoli and Gigio Donnarumma. They are highly valuable and there is a chance Rangnick pushes them to the exit door. That won’t go down well with the rossoneri faithful, who like to place their bets on the football asian handicap system.
More so, Boban and Maldini’s job has been very good so far. Unlike how Leonardo’s signings didn’t go down well last summer, it has been contrasting this season. Ante Rebic and Ismael Bennacer have impressed. Rade Krunic hasn’t played much but Zlatan Ibrahimovic has already scored twice and has one Serie A assist.
Theo Hernandez has scored five goals from left-back. Rafael Leao has scored twice but has shown flashes of brilliance. Winter signing Simon Kjaer has also done well, becoming a regular beside Romagnoli. Recruitment like that has been a drop in the ocean for Milan but it is a positive nonetheless.
But now, they are chopping again. Despite delivering promising signs in the market, Boban and Maldini are leaving and there is instability all over again. Everything changes in the next window. Players will go out and the whole identity changes.
In recent months, Pioli has been using a 4-4-2 shape that Rangnick likes. While that is a positive, but the styles are different. And that defines how this change will be a mixed bag. But the key for Gazidis and Milan would be to stick to it and make it work in the long-term. Changing it within months- like they did with Marco Giampaolo’s sacking, will lead to another disaster.