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There would have been fewer happier fan bases anywhere in Europe at the end of the 2021-22 season, as AC Milan won their first Scudetto in over ten years. It was something that looked extremely unlikely at the start of the season, with many experts predicting another title race between Juventus and Inter Milan. However, the consistency that Milan showed throughout the season ensured that their progression under Stefano Pioli continued.
In the 2020-21 season, Milan returned to the Champions League, but even that success would have ensured that a title challenge remained unlikely. Even as reigning champions, AC Milan will be outsiders to retain the title in 2022-23. As of June 28, they are 5/2 with Betway to win the top-flight Italy championship. But could a big summer ensure that they will have a renewed hope?
Building On Serie A Glory
The big test facing Pioli this coming season is building on the squad that he has put together at the San Siro. Many of Milan’s biggest rivals have already strengthened, with Inter bringing Romelu Lukaku back to Italy, while Paul Pogba is expected to announce his return to Juventus on a free transfer in the coming days. Milan will be boosted with extra finances this summer after the acquisition of the club by Redbird for a reported fee of €1.2 billion.
But, the aim for many fans will be to ensure that this new deal means that the club may become the dominant force in Europe once again. But, which areas of the field should be prioritised ahead of the start of the season if Milan is going to make a bold bid on both fronts this coming season?
In truth, many expected Milan to struggle to find a reliable keeper following the departure of Gianluigi Donnarumma to PSG last summer. However, the club wasted little time in addressing the area and managed to bring in Mike Maignan from Lille. The move has worked out better than many could have dreamed of, as the goalkeeper was easily the best shot-stopper in Serie A throughout the 2021-22 season.
Keeping hold of Maignan may be their biggest issue, but it is unlikely that any potential buying club would be willing to reach the demands of Milan. There is no big pressure to purchase a goalkeeper this summer, with Antonio Mirante and Ciprian Tatarusanu both being more than respectable understudies.
The defence could be the area of the pitch where we see the most business conducted over the summer. The addition of Fikayo Tomori is a strong signal of intent, but his defensive partner is still up for debate. Alessio Romagnoli looks set to depart the club on a free transfer, while Milan also came up short in their attempts to attract Sven Botman to the club, as it has been heavily reported that he will be playing in the Premier League with Newcastle United next summer.
Keeping hold of Theo Hernandez looks more straightforward this season, while a fully-fit Davide Calabria could solve the issue at right-back. Alesandro Florenzi looks set to be another departure, which means that the club may be in the market for a backup right-back.
The expected departure of Franck Kessie is the biggest area of the pitch that Milan will need to address over the summer months, but the hierarchy is reportedly confident that they will be able to get a deal for Renato Sanches over the line. The Lille midfielder is expected to have a number of other offers to consider this summer, but regular game time and the promise of Champions League football could be enough to sway his decision.
Milan is well stocked in the midfield area, as Sandro Tonali, Rade Krunic, and Ismael Bennacer are all likely to be remaining with the club. If there is one area of the midfield that the club may look to strengthen, then that could be the number ten role. Jesse Lingard had been a player linked with the San Siro, but the Englishman is most likely to return to West Ham United. However, Morgan Gibbs-White and Enzo Fernandez are two further options that the hierarchy has reportedly been open to.
It is expected that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be missing for large parts of the 2022-23 season as he needed to undergo knee surgery after the title-winning campaign. His absence is likely to be felt at the top end of the pitch, and with Olivier Giroud not getting any younger, Milan will be looking for a new number nine that will be more than capable of leading the attack this coming season. Divock Origi is one striker that the club already appears to have got through the door, as a deal looks imminent.
However, the hierarchy may be looking to bring in one more striker to add further depth to this area of the pitch. Gianluca Scammaca and Domenico Berardi are believed to be Milan’s top targets in this area of the pitch. The latter could be an excellent addition after scoring 15 goals in 33 league games last season.