Growing Pains For Milan Pair

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"Chaos in Milan. It’s never this bad!" cried the front page of Corriere dello Sport last Monday, reacting to seeing the city’s two clubs both lose the previous weekend. Indeed, before Milan’s midweek win over Cagliari, the pair had combined to take just three points from seven home matches following three draws and four losses, with Milan themselves having already lost three league games this term.

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Arrivederci Alessandro Nesta

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While he introduced himself to the world with a mistimed training ground challenge that broke Paul Gascoigne’s leg almost twenty years ago, Alessandro Nesta departed Milan in a press conference far more in keeping with a career in which has been synonymous with perfection and consistent brilliance ever since he first found space in the Lazio first team shortly after that incident with the England midfielder.

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Another Hat Trick For Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic?

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The three midweek fixtures in Serie A on Wednesday meant that finally the league table had parity restored as all the matches cancelled due to bad weather were played at last. This provides us with, after weeks of various teams having games-in-hand, an opportunity to assess where the clubs sit with just twelve weeks of the season remaining and, in doing so, one thing becomes abundantly clear; it will take something special from a rival to prevent a Scudetto repeat for reigning Champions AC Milan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

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The Milan Derby: Here We Go Again!

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Italian football returned this past weekend, much to the delight of fans of clubs across the peninsula but, as far as two of the teams coming back from their shortened Winter Break were concerned, those fixtures were merely a warm-up for the main event this Sunday evening when Milan play cousins Inter in the 205th edition of the Derby della Madonnina. The match has written the narrative to many of Italian footballs greatest stories, from the original split of the clubs in a row over foreign players to becoming the embodiment of the Sandro Mazzola-Gianni Rivera ‘staffeta’ debate in the early 1980’s…

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Carlos Tevez To Milan: Another Pact With The Devil?

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They couldn’t could they? After everything Carlos Tevez has done, his every outburst publicised and chronicled in many languages and televised for all to see, Italian giants AC Milan have elbowed their way to the front of the queue to sign the Argentinian striker. While the length of the line of clubs interested in the questionable services of the 27 year old has shortened in recent weeks, the club known as il Diavolo (‘The Devil’) tabled an offer to take him off Manchester City’s hands - and out of Roberto Mancini’s increasingly greying hair - when the transfer window opens in January.

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Thiago Silva: Shaped By Club and Personal History

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With supreme consistency and efficiency, Thiago Silva has matured into one of the best defenders in Serie A. Almost always among the better performers in any match, he has quickly become a vital component of the Milan defence. In the most difficult moments of the season, the 25 year-old Brazilian has shown the character and technical skills long associated with illustrious predecessors in the Rossoneri back-line such as Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi.

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Beppe Marotta: First Impressions Count

Following their disastrous season in 2009/10, Juventus moved quickly to make the best possible moves in order to ensure their swift return to the elite of both Italian and European football. Beppe Marotta’s arrival from Sampdoria was, along with Andrea Agnelli’s appointment as President, the most significant move made by the club since its 2007 return to Serie A.

As everyone knows, Luigi Delneri’s arrival as coach means the team will likely be fielded in a 4-4-2 formation, and immediately this meant the squad was ill-equipped to fulfill the tacticians requirements. The lack of width in attack was a constant issue last season, and the new set-up made addressing it even more pressing.

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With his right-hand man Fabio Paratici joining him from ‘Doria, Marotta immediately set about his task. His first signing told us much about both the way he operates, and the type of player this Juventus will target.

Simone Pepe, of Udinese, became the first signing of this new era. A player seemingly just on the cusp of the National team, hungry for success and recognition. These attributes, along with his age, still just 26, show a swift departure from the previous regime which saw too many aging, well-known veterans arrive, alongside expensive foreign imports. Young, gifted and Italian seems to be the mantra here.

But it is in the details of the transfer where Marotta’s ability truly reveals itself. Not only has he secured a talented winger, he has structured the deal in such a way that Juventus cannot lose. Paying just €2.6 million to secure a one year loan means the player will have to work hard and prove his quality in order to convince the club to exercise the option to make the deal permanent - an option Marotta has agreed for a further €7.5 million, spread over three years.

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A chance to see the player earn his move, a low fee and the luxury of spreading that fee over time is surely the equivalent of a hat-trick in the circles Marotta operates. He reinforced that view with similar moves for Catania’s Uruguayan winger Jorge Martinez, and a quality back-up goalkeeper in Milan’s Marco Storari who played under Delneri at Sampdoria last season.

More impressive moves for promising fullback Marco Motta (an identically structured hat-trick) and, most importantly Leonardo Bonucci will quickly improve on last seasons poor defence. Along with Giorgio Chiellini and Gigi Buffon, Juventus now have the pieces in place for Delneri to forge an impressive unit that can serve both club and country for a number of seasons.

It is now that for Marotta the real work arguably begins. With the needs reduced to perhaps another winger, a left back and a goalscorer, specific players must be targeted. In addition the squad is definitely far too big and a number of players will need to leave.


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This is where Alessio Secco was truly shown to be inadequate for the role. During his spell, not one sale that benefited Juventus was made. With David Trezeguet, Mauro Camoranesi, Zdenek Grygera, Jonathan Zebina and Fabio Grosso all surplus to requirements Marotta really has much work to do. There is also a list of players - Felipe Melo, Diego and Amauri among them - with whom the club would probably willing to part, but only at the right price.

It is perhaps in selling some or ideally all of these players - rather than securing further new arrivals - where Marotta will be ultimately jugged. Many are coming to the end of their careers, and on big contracts. and convincing them their future lies away from the grandeur and prestige of Turin will be far from easy.

He has made a great start to life at Juventus, but at the moment it is exactly that - a start. A man of Marotta’s intelligence will not rest on his laurels, nor believe the good press currently coming in his direction. His work can only truly be assessed at the end of the transfer window, until then all we can do is watch him work - and have faith Juventus now have the right man guiding them.