Serie A: Inter and AC Milan Rebuilding Their Rosters with Castoffs from Europe’s Elite Clubs

It’s safe to say that two of Serie A’s historically successful teams aren’t performing to their usual standards. Both finished last season outside of European qualifying places in the standings with Inter coming in eighth and Milan placing tenth.

Even before last season, things weren’t working in Northern Italy. In addition to focusing more on youth, both Milanese teams adopted a similar approach to rebuilding their rosters—sign castoffs from Europe’s elite.

Inter haven’t been in the Champions League since the 2011/2012 season. The only European cameos since then have been a pair of Round of 16 appearances. Under relatively new manager Roberto Mancini, the club has made it a point to restock their roster mainly with players from elite European clubs.

Mancini brought in Juan Miranda from Atletico Madrid while also signing Martin Montoya (who wasn’t receiving much playing time behind Dani Alves) on a two-year loan deal from Barcelona F.C. The duo are joined in defense by former Manchester United legend/center back Nemanja Vidic.

In addition to Miranda and Montoya, Mancini also added defensive-minded talent in the midfield, signing Geoffrey Kondogbia from French giant Monaco.

Inter’s other (recent) marquee addition summer transfer window addition was Manchester City forward Stevan Jovetic. Mancini signed the striker on loan from his former employers to replace the outgoing Xherdan Shaqiri (who himself was signed from a major European club—Bayern Munich).

Not to be outdone, Inter have had/currently employ a number of players who once suited up for Europe’s elite.

Defender Alex and attacker Jeremy Menez were both signed from Paris Saint-Germain on free transfers during last season’s summer transfer window. The Rossoneri‘s goalkeeper is also formerly of a major European powerhouse. Diego Lopez was also signed for free, but from Real Madrid.

Milan also employ Alessio Cerci, who is on loan from Atletico. He joined Milan in a loan-swap deal with Atleti in which Fernando Torres (who was signed from Chelsea) went the other way.

Mario Balotelli recently rejoined the Milanese club on loan from Liverpool after Milan sold him to the Premier League club. However, before he was sold to Liverpool, Milan bought him from Manchester City.

Yet another forward/striker on the frontline to play for Milan is Alessandro Matri. Matri was bought from Juventus after failing to establish himself in Turin. So far during his tenure in Milan he’s been loaned out to Fiorentina, Genoa and Juve. He’s made 18 appearances for Milan since signing in 2013.

While not with the team anymore (he’s signed with Panathinaikos) Michael Essien was signed from Chelsea and also suited up for Real Madrid.

In Conclusion

Both Milan clubs have yet to return to the peak of European football, where they spent so many years. However, the teams’ brass and fan bases will be hoping that these castoffs from Europe’s elite will propel the Milan teams back to the top of the mountain.

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Juventus Transfer Rumors: Players Who Could Leave Turin in the Summer Transfer Window

With Juventus inching towards a possible treble, the questions shift from “Can Juventus make a deep run in Europe?” to “Can they sustain their European success?”

New additions will be likely to sustain the success. These new additions will come from different circumstances. Some will be from other clubs while others are players Juve either co-own, have sent out to another club on loan, or have a buy-back option on.

To make room for these players, incumbent members of the squad will have to go. Here are a look at some of those players.

Fernando Llorente

The towering Spanish striker has been linked to Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Atletico Madrid in the past, which should help Juventus find a buyer for a player who has scored only seven goals in 31 appearances (all competitions) this season.

Despite the lack of goals, Llorente still makes sense for any interested Premier League club thanks to his aerial presence. The Premier League is an extremely physical league, and Llorente with his knack for scoring goals with his head, should fit in well.

His dearth of goals this season may signal his exit while also opening space for a player like Domenico Berardi (who is on loan at Sassuolo) or Simone Zaza (also at Sassuolo, Juve have a buy-back option in the players’ contract). The open spot could also go to an impact striker brought in from the transfer market like Robin van Persie or Paulo Dybala.


The veteran keeper has rarely appeared for the Italian giants and may find himself offloaded in the summer transfer window. Juve will likely send Nicola Leali out on other loan spell, but if they want the youngster to get experience with the first team in Turin, Rubinho would be the one to go.

This seems unlikely as the most game-time Leali would receive would be in the Coppa Italia in place of Marco Storari, but it’s a possibility nonetheless.

Paolo De Ceglie

The left back once looked to have a bright future in Turin, but has fallen by the way-side of late. He was due to spend the season on loan at Parma, but was called back in January to provide cover at left back due to Kwadwo Asamoah’s injury.

Another loan spell, if not an outright sale seems like the likeliest of outcomes. At only 28-years-old, he may yet provide value as Juve’s left back if Asamoah moves into the midfield and Patrice Evra retires.

Simone Pepe

Another player who hasn’t gotten the most field time as of late, Pepe has worked his way back from injury, but has yet to receive many full games. He’s gone the full 90 only once this season and other than that has only eclipsed a half hour once. Most of his appearances tend to be 20 minutes or less.

The Italian stands at a bit of a career crossroads. At 31, this may be his last chance to move to a club and be a major contributor. Does he go somewhere else and do that or stay at Juve and fight for a spot? Given the quality of the Old Lady, it would seem Pepe would be destined for a bit-part, bench sparkplug role for the rest of his time in Turin if he isn’t sold.

Whether Roberto Pereyra’s loan is made permanent could play a big role in whether Pepe stays.

Alessandro Matri

Matri was never quite was able to figure it out in Turin the first time around and seems destined to depart the Bianconeri for the second time.

The striker is on loan from Milan (Juve sold him to the Rossoneri in 2013) and has had loan stints with Fiorentina and Genoa before arriving once again in Turin. He was brought in strictly for depth and as such his loan deal remains unlikely to be made permanent. Like Llorente, he’ll need to leave to potentially create space for the likes of Berardi and Zaza and open up more minutes for Kingsley Coman.


The midfielder hasn’t played much for Juve due to injury. Because of that, his loan deal may not be made permanent despite a reasonable price.

All stats courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

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Juventus: What Happened to Milan Under Allegri and Why it Must Not Happen in Turin

Since Antonio Conte’s departure from Juventus, the club has made an equally shocking move by hiring Massimiliano Allegri – one of the architects of AC Milan’s descent from continental power to borderline mid-table Serie A team.

Allegri inherited a talented Milan squad, one that finished third in Serie A. he took that talent and infused it with a wealth of attacking options. In came the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Robinho and Antonio Cassano. All four players helped the coach claim the Scudetto in his first season on the job. After that, however, it was a steady diet of decline for the Milan club. The following year they slipped to second, after that third and after that an uncharacteristic eighth.

Some of this had to do with personnel. For one reason or another, players left Milan at a somewhat alarming rate over the course of Allegri’s tenure. Now to be fair, player movement is anything but uncommon, but at a winning club, you would think it wouldn’t be as pronounced as in a weaker team.

One of the coach’s most common lineups in his Scudetto winning tenure featured Christian Abbiati in goal with a four man defense of Ignazio Abate, Alessandro Nesta, Thiago Silva and Luca Antonini protecting him. Sitting in front of them was the midfield diamond of Mark van Bommel, Clarence Seedorf, Gennaro Gattuso and Boateng supporting Robinho and Ibrahimovic in attack.

Allegri showed a strange resolve not to use Pirlo as much as he could. I don’t care who you have on your team, if you are a manager, you should start Pirlo. If it’s a three-man midfield and the likes of Pirlo, Xavi, Xabi Alonso and Bastian Schweinsteiger are at your disposal, you should sit one of them in favor of the bearded wonder.

This is what Allegri did, preferring to use Gattuso, Seedorf, van Bommel (upon his arrival) instead of Pirlo. To be fair, Milan did have an embarrassment of riches in central midfield with the aforementioned trio, Pirlo and club legend Massimo Ambrosini. All five were some of the finer midfield players of their generation, but there is absolutely no way you leave arguably the best passer of the last 15 years on the bench.

Ok, if he doesn’t start, at least give him a “super-sub” role. That sounds like the smart thing to do in the situation. Is that what Allegri did? Eh, not really. The coach handed Mathieu Flamini more appearances in terms of players who weren’t established starters.

It’s a little more acceptable to sit Pirlo behind legends like Seedorf and Gattuso as opposed to Flamini. Don’t get me wrong, Flamini is a fine player who has enjoyed an extremely successful career, but Pirlo should be playing ahead of him 98 times out of 100.

This led to Pirlo ultimately leaving and signing with Juventus, where he has since gone on to beat Milan to three straight Scudettos.

Pirlo wasn’t the only face to leave the northern club throughout Allegri’s tenure. Of his starting XI that claimed the title in his first season – Abbiati, Abate, Nesta, Silva, Antonini, Gattuso, van Bommel, Seedorf, Boateng, Ibrahimovic and Robinho – only Abbiati, Abate, Antonini, Boateng and Robinho remained on the team two years later. Four years later and the list shrinks to Abbiati, Abate and Robinho with only the former as a starter on a weekly basis.

Ok, so maybe some of the players like Nesta and Gattuso were close to retirement and it isn’t that surprising that they left, but players still left in hoards. Of the 23 players to make ten or more appearances across all competitions in the championship winning season, only four remain with the team. Of those 23, 18 of them were gone by the beginning of last season.

The lack of stars like of Pirlo, Ibrahimovic and Silva, left a massive void in the Milan team. They were never quite able to recover after the latter two left. These weren’t the only names to leave northern Italy during Allegri’s spell. Slipping through the cracks was then young and up-and-coming players like Matteo Darmian and current Dortmund pair Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sokratis Papastathopoulos.

Despite the departures, some Allegri did make a few smart signings as replacements. Riccardo Montolivo was a fantastic free transfer acquisition, as was getting Philippe Mexes for free. Milan also bought Stephan El Shaarawy outright and signed Mario Balotelli. Antonio Nocerino was a superb signing upon arrival, but struggled following the departure of Ibrahimovic and company. He has since been farmed out to West Ham and Torino on loan.

Under Allegri, Milan went from spending on top-level talent like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kevin-Prince Boateng to splurging a significant amount of money on misfiring striker Alessandro Matri (a player Juve fans know well) when the team already had Balotelli, Robinho, Giampaolo Pazzini and El Shaarawy under contract and glaring holes elsewhere on the roster.

Is all this going to happen at Juventus? No. Could it? Yes. Allegri won’t make the same blunder with Pirlo that he made the first time. He, along with anyone who’s familiar with football who has seen Juve play, knows that Juve runs through the bearded maestro. Running through Pirlo has netted the Bianconeri three straight titles. I get the feeling Allegri’s not going to mess with that. Juve must win to maintain everything, namely their roster. Allegri must be successful; otherwise players could leave in hoards. You would think if the team truly struggled after a long period of time, a team with Juve’s ambitions would cut the chord with Allegri rather than experience a prolonged nightmare like Milan. This is a proven winner, Allegri shouldn’t be make any bizarre personnel decisions like he did at Milan in fear of upsetting the proven formula. Allegri is in a completely different situation then Milan. He must produce results, and judging by what he’s already said, he has the right mind-set. Either way, the gradual nose dive that occurred at Milan won’t happen at Juventus.

Six Things We Learned from Italy After the Netherlands Friendly

(Disclaimer: I don’t profess to know a ton about football. I just love the beautiful game.)

  1. Andrea Pirlo’s genius, pace and the fouls/free kicks he draws. Some people play on a whole other physical level, or a whole other level in terms of speed. The latter is Pirlo. (Also, isn’t it nice that in football/soccer, wherever you’re from, a players is simplified to just one name? Even if he hasn’t shortened his name to one name. Messi is called Messi when his full name is Lionel Messi, etc. Anyways, it lends itself to lazy typers like me, and the rest of the world for that matter.) Pirlo plays the game almost methodically. You know when basketball gurus say that the game has “slowed down” for some players? That’s Pirlo. He slows it down. While the tempo killing can sometimes be hard to watch, the Italian midfield maestro always makes the right pass, even if he has to slow down to do it. Expanding on that, especially in the match against the Dutch, everyone else was going 110 miles an hour (if you will) while Pirlo was cruising at a comfortable 85. The result of this is that a lot of hand checks and fouls that might go un-noticed were noticed as Pirlo drew multiple free kicks by simply playing at the speed he feels comfortable playing. I should also point out his genius. Which he is, by the way. Every game there are about three to four plays where he makes a pass that could open up the defense. If your defense gives Pirlo milk and curds he turns it into Swiss cheese. (Especially if he’s playing against the Swiss.)
  2. Buffon does it again. Where Pirlo makes three or four passes that unlock the defense, Gigi Buffon makes three or four saves that the average Joe keeper wouldn’t make every game. He did this again on multiple occasions against the Dutchmen.
  3. Sub Par? Not to say that the starters were lacking, but the substitutions of Pablo Osvaldo, Alessandro Diamanti, Alberto Gilardino and Marco Verratti certainly changed the game in a positive way.
  4. Slick Whats? The field was very slick in case you didn’t notice. At least half a dozen players hit the turf, one of which quelled a promising Italian attack.
  5. Friendly Strategy. (That faux headline didn’t work, but stick with me.)  Cesare Prandelli certainly isn’t using friendlies to get results. The Italy head-man consistently uses friendly games to test younger players and tinker with different pairings and lineups ahead of major tournaments. He’s using this strategy for the upcoming Confederations Cup as well as the Azzurri’s likely World Cup spot in Brazil in 2014.
  6. It’ll Work. Eventually. Italy’s spearheaded attack of Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaaraway seemed to be a bit stagnant in the first half. While the Osvaldo/Diamanti/Gilardino trident worked, the former group will likely be the long and short-term options up front. They’ll figure it out eventually, playing together that is. After all they both play for AC Milan. They’ll be tested and ready by Brazil.

If I missed anything from the game that you thought was mention-worthy, tell me in the comments section.