Tag Archives: AC Milan

Transfer round-up

Rafael van der Vaart

In which I publish a list of notable transfers, in no particular order:

Rafael van der Vaart to Tottenham: For a measly £8 million, Spurs added an excellent player in Rafael van der Vaart. He’ll give the offense a bit of class and a lot of punch. I never understand why he didn’t feature prominently at Real Madrid, not do I understand why he doesn’t play more for the Dutch national team. And I don’t understand why Sir Alex Ferguson wasn’t all over this move, especially at only £8 million. Their loss is Tottenham’s gain.

Robinho to AC Milan: For €18 million, AC Milan added a supremely talented striker and malcontent. He’s one of those guys who needs constant attention, which must be exhausting, to be honest. However, I think he’ll provide a good return on the money because he’s motivated and he’s wanted at Milan.

Asamoah Gyan to Sunderland: Ambitious Sunderland added World Cup hero Gyan in a bid to give the offense a boost. I, for one, think it will work out just swimmingly.

Javier Mascherano to Barcelona: A terrible move for both club and player. Mascherano doesn’t fit Barcelona’s system at all. This is a vanity signing, pure and simple. And it’s destined for failure.

Raul Meireles to Liverpool: A good move for Liverpool because Meireles is a gifted player (despite his comically bad tattoos). I think he’ll work out fine.

Mario Balotelli to Manchester City: And City add another player. And overpay for the privilege, too. Of course, that’s been the story of the last couple of years. I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

Ramires to Chelsea: A good move by Chelsea. And cheap-ish, too.

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Filed under La Liga, Premiership, Serie A

Huzzah! The Champion’s League is back

milan v. real 2009 (getty)

Milan celebrating a goal v. Real Madrid (Getty Images)

Yeah, I’m overreacting to group games. But unlike some other killjoys, I actually like the Champion’s League.

Groups A through D are in action today with the most interesting game, IMO, taking place at the Giusepping Meazza, where AC Milan look to defeat Real Madrid again (recall that Milan won 3-2 in Madrid in the last round). You can be sure that Madrid will be out for blood while Milan and its fans will be pumped up. Should be a spectacular game overall.

Other interesting matches include Besiktas v. Wolfsburg, Marseille v. FC Zürich, and Atlético Madrid v. Chelsea.

At Old Trafford, United takes on CSKA Moscow following their 1-0 win in Moscow. Igor Akinfeev is excited: “We are playing a legendary team in a legendary stadium. It will be an inspirational game, the most important in our careers.” Personally, I hope he puts on a good show and gets used to the ground because I want him to join United when Edwin van der Sar retires. But that’s just me (and the priority for January should be a central defender).

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Milan confirm Becks return

David Beckham in Milan

David Beckham in Milan

Well, that’s settled. Yippee-ki-yay. AC Milan have confirmed that David Beckham will return to the San Siro in January.

Sarcasm aside, good for him (it’s likely well-known that I actually like Beckham the football player, limited as he is. Perhaps it’s the Canadian in me and I appreciate his heart and the fact that he’ll play on 1 good leg for his country. That’s admirable, even with the underwear ads and other extracurricular stuff. But I digress.) and I hope he makes the 2010 World Cup team for England.

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Filed under MLS, Serie A

Saturday Night Links: Monday edition

Zlatan Ibrahimovic presented in Barcelona (Getty Images)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic presented in Barcelona (Getty Images)

Zlatan Ibrahimović completed his move to Barcelona today with a few choice words for Inter in particular and Italian soccer in general. “I was fed up of Italy, of Milan, of your football: you play badly, there’s too much stress.” Interesting. We all know Italian soccer is defensive but Italy is hardly the only country that takes its soccer way too seriously. He probably should have kept his mouth shut and kept on praising Inter chief Massimo Moretti. By the way, that’s a number 9 jersey he’s holding in the picture.

The other half of the swap, Samuel Eto’o, moved, along with the comically astronomical sum of €46 million, to Inter. The Cameroon striker pledged to score at a higher rate than he did in Barcelona (39 goals in 49 games last year). I don’t know what number he’s going to wear. Number 8 is clearly available but Eto’o has a preference for number 9. Does anyone know if number 10 is available at Inter?

Ives looks back at Mexico’s 5-0 destruction of the US in the Gold Cup Final. He seems to think it’s not that big a deal, something I agree with. Mexico was clearly the better team, esp. in the second half.

Peter Crouch has joined Tottenham from Portsmouth. I like the big awkward lug and think he’ll do well with Spurs.

Florentino Pérez says Real Madrid have to clear some players out. No shit, Sherlock. A.C. Milan are apparently interested in Klass-Jan Huntelaar, who is a very good striker but not nearly as good as the really rather awesome Karim Benzema.

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What does the World Football Challenge mean?

Frank Lampard scores (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Frank Lampard scores (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

So what does the World Football Challenge mean, in the larger sense, for soccer in the US?

1. Attendance through 12 games was 670,000 and tickets were selling for 10 times face value. What does that tell you? It tells me that US fans will pay to see the best teams and players. But that has been clear since the 1994 World Cup. It also tells me that European teams are taking these games seriously.

2. MLS needs to stop expanding and develop the grassroots game. The best way to do that is to integrate USL-1 and USL-2 and improve loaning and player-development deals. It also needs to clarify its relationship with the NCAA. Most of it, it needs to develop and retain good American players will utilizing the DP slots more effectively. At its best, the slot is a way to generate good publicity and to help the team take a significant step forward. At its worst, the slot is a financial boondoggle. It’s up to MLS GMs to make sure it’s the former rather than the latter.

3. All those fans who are going to the World Football Challenge need to wake up and support their local MLS teams. That esp. goes for all the fans of Mexico who believe they are above MLS; they’re not. If they love soccer, they’ll watch it be played at its highest level in this country, even if they do, for some godforsaken reason, like América. Scratch that: América can keep all their fans. Every other one should check out FC Dallas or Houston.

4. All of those fans who are going to the World Football Challenge need to support the Gold Cup. It’s only natural.

The World Football Challenge is instructive in that it shows there is a kind of soccer elitism in the US. They will
come out for the best club teams and their players but they will not support their own league. If they ever want to
see the best players and best club teams every week, like the NFL or the NBA or MLB, they must start supporting MLS.

Alexi Lalas said that in 1994 he saw tonight coming (75,000 people at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD) even then. But what he saw coming was not 75,000 people showing up for a friendly between an English team and an Italian team. No, he saw 75,000 coming to see American players. And that day isn’t here yet.

So, how do we get rid of the elitism? Through exposure. MLS needs more than one game per week on ESPN. It also  needs local television exposure and it needs to be on networks. I’ve no idea why ABC and ESPN don’t show a Saturday double-header every week during the summer. In addition to the momentum gained by World Cup Qualifiers and the Confederations Cup, it would build good momentum for MLS.

Have at it, ESPN.

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Onyewu to AC Milan

Oguchi Onyewu (Getty Images)

Oguchi Onyewu (Getty Images)

Now that’s a step up. Maybe.

US defender Oguchi Onyewu signed with AC Milan on a free today just when their fans were questioning their transfer policy. Not surprisingly, some fans are still upset that the team sold Kaká to Real Madrid. Go figure.

Milan has been linked to prominent forwards – including Luis Fabiano, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, and Emmanuel Adebayor – but given that they have Alexandre Pato and he’s apparently not going anywhere, I think they need to shore up their back line. A quick look at their roster indicates to me that they have three or four quality defenders and that all of them are getting rather old. Onyewu is a good start but, really, they need to add more depth and quality there. Re-patriating Andrea Barzagli would be a good first step. As would looking for other young Italian talent. Perhaps, if they’re bent on adding an attacking player, Giuseppe Rossi should be a target since he would provide speed in midfield.

Although they haven’t really made any mis-steps in the transfer market yet, the team did hire an unproven manager: Leonardo Nascimento de Araujo, better known simply as Leonardo. While I understand the name has a certain appeal to Italians and that Barcelona hired unproven Pep Guardiola last year, it seems to me that Leonardo, who had worked at the Technical Director, is more cut out to be a backroom man than the guy up front. Then again, he might prove me wrong. Though I doubt players are lining up to transfer for him like they would be for Carlo Ancelotti.

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Kaká’s transfer by the numbers

Two days. That’s how long Kaká’s reign at the top of the world record transfer list lasted. On 9 June 2009, he moved from AC Milan to Real Madrid for £59 million. This is after saying, in January, that he would stay at Milan for the rest of his career. Six months later, he’s off to Madrid.

30 percent. That’s how much salary AC Milan must cut because of the worldwide economic decline. Apparently, when he turned down the January move, Kaká agreed to a personal salary freeze. The move to Real Madrid puts money in the player’s pocket and the team’s. ESPN, which was not the only outlet to report this, decided that Kaká moved not only to help himself but also to help AC Milan.

Kaka in Madrid colors

The number 18. Kaká’s reported shirt number at Real Madrid. This is fascinating to me because shirt numbers say a lot. Some players want a specific number at all stops; others don’t care. Kaká is interesting because he wore number 8 at São Paulo, then number 22 at AC Milan. He wore number 8 with Brazil but has since changed to number 10 (which is, of course, sacred in Brazil and in the larger world of soccer).

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Arsenal v. AC Milan

Tragically, ESPN decided not to show my team, Manchester United, take on Lyon. Instead, they’re airing Arsenal v. AC Milan. Now, normally I’d only watch the Arse to see them get thrashed, like say, the 4-0 drubbing at the hands of United on the weekend. But the Champion’s League is the Champion’s League and Arse is very, very good. With that said, Milan is also very, very good and has enough European pedigree to make anyone quake in their boots. So I’m watching.

It’s been billed as two technically proficient teams doing battle in the pre-game reading I did. I have to agree with that. Arse is also pretty young while Milan are experienced. I’m a big fan of Gattuso and Fàbregas so it’ll be nice to see them do battle.  Tuning in to ESPN, Tommy Smyth and Derek Rae are the commentators for the game and they’re always entertaining. I just learned that Kaká has 23 goals in 56 Champion’s League games. That’s ridiculous! Also of note is Alexandre Pato is making his first Champion’s League appearance. This makes me happy. It also makes me happy that he’s wearing hilariously gold boots. Awesome.

FIRST HALF

– the game starts out slowly, with each team wary. Arse tries to press but is turned back by the outstanding Milan defense. An exception is a beautiful pass by Lehmann that springs Adebayor at 10 minutes. Only a brilliant recovery by Oddo prevented that from being a goal

– Kaká was noticibly absent for the first 19 minutes. He had only 2 touches in the first 14 minutes. That’s not good when you’re the best player in the world

– Nesta v. Adebayor is a match-up to watch as the game goes on

– Fàbregas finally shows up, 25 minutes in, and makes a lovely pass to Adebayor

– at 27 minutes,  Kaká had a chance to shoot but chose to pass instead; he muffed the pass and the threat was neutralized

– Glichy gave it away to Pato on a throw-in; Fàbregas saves his bacon by dispossessing Pato (28 minutes)

– 30 minutes in, Arsenal are looking good. Milan’s been on its heels the entire half so far with Arse taking the initiative and pushing hard for a goal. Arse’s forwards look too fast for Milan, esp. Adebayor.

– speaking of Adebayor, he beat Kaladze again (38 minutes)

HORRIBLE pass by Adebayor to Fàbregas. Fàbregas was free in the box and would’ve scored (41 minutes)

– brilliant move by Hleb at 43 minutes

YELLOW CARDS: Pato (31)

In sum, Arse played their game but couldn’t score a goal. They need to keep pressing and get that goal. Milan need to use the counter-attack more effectively. What they really need is a couple of creative wings. Instead, they’ll have to find some way to spring Kaká. Pirlo was strangely absent.

SECOND HALF

– Pato is sprung but he’s offside (50 minutes)

– two good runs, firstby Milan then by Arse on the counter-attack (51 minutes)

– wow, Arse finally hit their stride: three good runs resulting in Eduardo’s shot at the goal. Arse are really pressing here and Milan are back on their heels (55 minutes)

– Milan finally react with a good, methodic counter-attack (58 minutes)

– Arse continue to press. They’re playing the way soccer should be played: attacking with flair and defending with purpose. Arse truly practice a beautiful game. (60 minutes)

– Oddo is sprung by Kaká but he screws up the shot (61 minutes)

– Milan have really pressed Arse in the last 5 minutes. It’s been very entertaining, much more so than the first half (66 minutes)

– Kalac comes up huge against Fàbregas (74 minutes)

– Pato is hurt. This is not good. Gilardino comes on for him. (77 minutes)

– Kalac with another huge save on Fàbregas! Amazing! (82 minutes)

– Arse are taking it to Milan again (82 minutes and forward)

– Milan are playing for the draw (90 minutes)

– at 94 minutes, Walcott with a great run and cross to Adebayor but he hits it off the crossbar! So close!

YELLOW CARDS: Éboué (80)

SUBS: Jankulovski for Nesta (49); Gilardino for Pato (77); Emerson for Seedorf (86); Bendtner for Eduardo (74); Walcott for Éboué (89)

Exciting half, far better than the first half. Arse are very, very good with sustained periods of attack. It was truly impressive to see. Milan weathered the storm and used their counter-attacks very well. Pirlo and Seedorf played terribly. Kaká was merely okay. Kalac deserves a raise for how well he played. Arse must be terribly frustrated. They played their game for long stretched but couldn’t score. Fàbregas is clearly Arsenal’s engine and he showed it. When he played well, the whole team played well. They need to get him the ball more often in the second leg.

The second leg is in 2 weeks. Should be awesome.

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