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AC Milan: Serie A 2014/15 Season Preview – Rossoneri Start Life Without Balotelli

Milan linked with move for Torres to bolster attacking options for Inzaghi…

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AC Milan will begin a new era this season under Pippo Inzaghi, but after the sale of Mario Balotelli, have they got enough in the squad to improve on last year?

After dismissing Massimiliano Allegri for a continued failure to show progress, the Rossoneri appointed Clarence Seedorf with the hope that the Dutchman could bring about a return to past glories.

However, despite promising new philosophies and a style of play, the Milan front office didn’t see enough to suggest that he was the long-term solution and although he accumulated a respectable points total in his short stint as Coach, it wasn’t enough to save his job.

As a result, another change was made this summer with Inzaghi promoted from the youth team to take charge of the senior squad. Following on from a worrying tour of the US, Milan have settled in pre-season and have shown signs that there are better times ahead.

However, the sale of Mario Balotelli to Liverpool has raised further questions of the direction in which the club is heading and it appears as though Fernando Torres will be the ‘marquee’ signing of the summer with an announcement expected shortly, as reported by Football Italia.

Elsewhere, Diego Lopez and Pablo Armero have already been acquired in a bid to add solidity to a defensive line that has ultimately been a liability since Thiago Silva and Alessandro Nesta departed. Alex and Adil Rami were also signed to shore up the heart of the back-four, and so it remains to be seen whether or not Milan have finally solved the problem.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Inzaghi’s work this summer though has been his ability to identify players surplus to requirements and offload them. Both Kevin Constant and Robinho were particularly singled out for criticism last season, and the pair have now moved on to pastures new.

Nevertheless, little has changed in midfield with youngster Bryan Cristante likely to deputise for club captain Riccardo Montolivo as he continues to recover from a broken leg. Riccardo Saponara has played a big role in pre-season, but it is unclear as to whether or not he has done enough to earn the trust of Inzaghi ahead of competitive action.

Similarly, it is a familiar-looking attacking line-up with Jeremy Menez the only notable arrival, although Keisuke Honda has shown signs this summer that he has now settled and will improve on his first season in Italy.

However, this season is undoubtedly Stephan El Shaarawy’s year to shine. The 21-year-old was fundamental to Milan when he initially arrived on the scene, and following Balotelli’s exit he will now have the freedom to express himself fully as the focal point of the side’s attack.

Despite significant criticism of the move, Torres’ arrival could potentially be a fresh start in a league less demanding than in England, and if the Spaniard can act as a foil for El Shaarawy whilst proving there is plenty left in the tank, then it could turn out to be a successful move.

Unlike their rivals this season, Milan have no European football to cater for in their schedule. With their entire focus on Serie A, they should have fresh legs when it will count most. As a result, despite concern over the quality of the squad, they should have enough to grab a place in Europe.

Key Player This Season: Stephan El Shaarawy.

Most Impressive Transfer This Summer: Alex.

Prediction: Serie A – 5th.

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