Milan enters its clash against Atalanta with the possibility of being crowned campioni d’inverno - the winter champions. The team that finishes in first place after the first half of the season typically goes onto win the ultimate crown in Italy. Milan has shown its willingness to push on this transfer window, securing Fikayo Tomori, Mario Mandzukic, and Soualiho Meite. The Rossoneri’s proactive dealings demonstrate they believe in themselves and their ability to push on for the Scudetto.
Since Ivan Gazidis took over, Milan forged ahead with an ambitious youth project, looking to rejuvenate the side with young prospects on the cusp of greatness. Ismael Bennacer is but one of these players, taking the next step in his career and becoming one of Italian football’s midfield dynamos.
Rafael Leao is another intriguing talent and has since added end product to his game, delivering the goods when called upon. Led by the indomitable Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Milan’s young guns have surprised the rest of Italy, losing just once this season. The Italian giants have recognized the title is there for the taking and have reacted accordingly this January.
Mario Mandzukic offers some much-needed depth in the final third and will make for an excellent vice-Ibra. The Croatian has shown he is capable of starting on the left-wing and roaming into the box dangerously. Whether Pioli deploys him as a more traditional number nine remains to be seen, but Mandzukic’s skillset makes for an interesting pairing with Ibrahimovic.
Beyond guaranteeing goals, Mandzukic’s arrival is a clear signal of intent from Milan. The former Juventus hitman adds some veteran leadership in what is a relatively inexperienced locker room. A proven winner, Milan will be hoping Mandzukic leads by example and spurs the side onto new heights.
On the opposite side of the pitch, the Rossoneri bolstered their defensive ranks with Chelsea’s Fikayo Tomori. The Englishman arrives on a loan deal with an option to buy, offering Mian depth at the back. Simon Kjaer and Alessio Romagnoli are Milan’s undisputed center-back pairing, but Tomori will make for a quality option off the bench.
The 23-year-old kicked off his Chelsea career by bursting onto the scene but has since seen his minutes halved due to the arrival of Thiago Silva. A move to Milan may be exactly what Tomori needs to play regular football and deliver on his incredible potential. Should the Chelsea loanee struggle, Milan will simply not trigger its option to purchase him. In many ways, this deal is yet another win-win for Maldini and co.
Stefano Pioli’s side also wasted no time improving on its midfield depth, securing Meite from Torino. The 26-year-old arrives on a low-risk deal, with Milan holding the option to make his move permanent for a modest fee. Much like Tomori, this six-month loan spell will be Meite’s trial at the club.
Milan’s midfield has been ravaged by injuries and suspensions in recent weeks, forcing Pioli to deploy Davide Calabria in the double pivot. While the fullback has done an adequate job filling in, a player like Meite ensures the Italian giants are not short on options in the middle of the park. Bennacer and Kessie may be Pioli’s first-choice pairing, but Meite could still carve out important minutes for himself – especially as the side competes on three fronts.
Milan has extremely proactive this January transfer window, arming its side with quality depth ahead of the final run-in. The crafty formulas of their deals ensure they have close to no financial obligations should either Meite or Tomori struggle to adapt. Mandzukic, on the other hand, can prove to be the difference-maker in the title race, boasting a plethora of experience. As the second half of the season approaches, one thing is clear: Milan believes in themselves and they are going for it.
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