Milan’s resurgence spells trouble for Roma and Napoli

Date published: Thursday 27th July 2017 2:57

AC Milan make a return to European football next season, albeit in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League, following a three year absence, and the Rossoneri have already begun to show their ambitions for the upcoming campaign.

As Juventus cruised to the Serie A title last term, they left room for two other teams to join them in the Champions League, which were filled by Roma and Napoli with just a single point between them.

Atalanta caused shockwaves by securing fourth place and Europa League football, and will be joined by Lazio in Europe’s second-tier competition, while Milan face a long road beginning in the third qualifying round.

Going forward, a sixth-place finish will certainly not be good enough for a club as esteemed as Milan, and recent transfer arrivals will only increase that pressure.

The Rossoneri pulled off the biggest surprise of the transfer window with the acquisition of Leonardo Bonucci from Juventus, while early moves for young talents like Turkish playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu, Portuguese striker Andre Silva, and Ivorian midfielder Franck Kessie look to be shrewd investments.

Neither Roma nor Napoli have been as proactive, with the Romans spending heavily on their defence, while the Neapolitans have only brought in Tunisian winger Adam Ounas from Bordeaux.

Azzurri boss Maurizio Sarri admits that his side will be the same as last season, while Milan are talking to Bayern Munich in the hopes of snapping up promising Portuguese midfielder Renato Sanches. The gap in ambition is almost palpable

The Rossoneri struggled to score last season, managing to find the net just 57 times in Serie A compared to the 94 from Napoli. Andre Silva will help improve that statistic, but can’t be expected to do so by himself.

With the signings of Kessi and Lucas Biglia, who arrived from Atalanta and Lazio respectively, Milan have added both youth and experience to their midfield, while Calhanoglu is renowned for his free-kicks and ability to pick a pass.

They have also constructed a new-look defence with full-backs Ricardo Rodriguez and Andrea Conti alongside centre-backs Mateo Musacchio and Bonucci, the latter of which will act as a mentor to his younger colleagues, such as 22-year-old Alessio Romagnoli.

In addition to the signings, Milan have managed to convince goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to stay, when he once seemed destined to depart, while fellow youth academy projects Manuel Locatelli and Patrick Cutrone are worth keeping an eye on.

A full 23 points separated Milan from Roma and Napoli last season. That’s a lot to make up for, but the Rossoneri have been making all the right moves.

You can bet on all the Serie A action, including live in-play betting, at www.betway.co.za.

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