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Thursday, July 20, 2017

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Patience really is a virtue. After years of prudent spending and then an excruciatingly drawn-out takeover bid, AC Milan are splashing the cash. Their summer transfer spree feels like a child creating a super team on a computer game. Fans accustomed to slim pickings are on cloud nine.But this isn’t fantasy football. It’s very real and every day fans wake with a smile, desperate to see who will join next. So far the new recruit count is up to 10, and is expected to grow. By the time the new season kicks off on August 20, they could have 15 new faces.

At this point their outlay stands at around £160 million. The Italians have zoomed past recent eye-catching overhauls by both Manchester clubs, and lie in second place behind Real Madrid’s record-breaking £295 m remodelling of 2009.

Last season the Rossoneri’s final total spend was a shade over £23m. Indeed, supporters had become used to scrimping and scavenging. Previous owner Silvio Berlusconi preferred not to go overboard in the second half of his 31-year tenure.

Of course when his instincts guided him, he pushed out the boat for pearls Andriy Shevchenko, Manuel Rui Costa, Filippo Inzaghi, Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta. Those mega signings stopped abruptly around 10 years ago though.

New priorities and reduced investment in football led to the inevitable: the media magnate and politician sold his boyhood team. After months of rumours and negotiation, which felt like a torture to supporters, new Chinese owners took over in spring this year.

Then in mid-April this year, the news fans craved arrived. The consortium paid £840m (a staggering €1billion) for the seven-times European champions. That amount included the club value (£740m) and its debts.

Bringing all the money together was one of the main headaches. The final payment was the biggest hold-up, and new owners Rossoneri Sport Lux had to take a loan of £152m from US hedge fun Elliott. They got over the line though and Berlusconi’s holding company Fininvest sanctioned the sale.

They include Slovakian midfield workhorse Juraj Kucka who joined Trabzonspor, dynamic box-to-boxer Andrea Poli, now at Bologna, and Keisuke Honda. The Japanese international was a free-kick maestro and of course a masterstroke in marketing, but couldn’t make a lasting impact on Serie A.

Scrappy striker Gianluca Lapadula and injury-cursed raiding midfielder Andrea Bertolacci have signed for Genoa. Needless to say giddy fans view the replacements for those departing as huge upgrades.

The pressure is on coach Vincenzo Montella to blend the new guys and create a positive squad spirit. Integrating practically an entire team will be an exacting challenge, and while the directors will give the former Roma and Sampdoria predator time, there won’t be an abundance of patience in the stands.
After all, this isn’t a PlayStation team funded by virtual money.

  1. Andrea Conti £8m
  2. Ricardo Rodriguez £15m
  3. Leonardo Bonucci £35m
  4. Mateo Musacchio £15.5m
  5. Lucas Biglia £17m
  6. Franck Kessie £17m
  7. Hakan Calhanoglu £17m
  8. Andre Silva £19.5m
  9. Fabio Borini £4.8m
  10. Antonio Donnarumma £1m


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