5 things to know about AC Milan

Five things to know about AC Milan ahead of the start of the

Serie A season:

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AC Milan is once again the team likeliest to challenge Juventus

following a season of transition. After a complete overhaul of its

squad, Milan started the last campaign poorly and looked more like

candidates for relegation. However, Milan’s youngsters began to

play well and, with the addition of Mario Balotelli in January,

stormed up the standings to secure third spot. If the team

continues this season in the same fashion as the second half of

last campaign, Milan will once again be a force to be reckoned

with.

MARIO BALOTELLI

Bringing Mario Balotelli back to Italy was certainly the

greatest coup Milan achieved last season. Finally the team had a

star player and one that could score goals – two things sorely

needed following the offseason departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. And

score goals Balotelli did – 12 in 13 games to be precise, helping

lead Milan to the Champions League qualification round. Balotelli’s

penalty-taking skills are second to none, having never missed a

spot kick, and he has formed a lethal partnership with Stephan El

Shaarawy that is set to benefit both Milan and the Italian national

team.

MASSIMILIANO ALLEGRI

AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri has never really won the

hearts of the team’s supporters and is not a media favorite either.

There has been persistent talk of a change amid reports of a

fractious relationship between Allegri and club owner Silvio

Berlusconi. Allegri clung on despite the difficult times at the

start of last season, however, and he won grudging respect for

managing to turn the team’s fortunes around and get the best out of

a young and inexperienced squad. But more will be expected of him

this season following two trophyless years.

YOUNG GUNS

AC Milan fans were left stunned last offseason when the old

guard and several stars departed the club en masse, leaving a squad

composed mainly of young unknown players. It appeared as if the

club’s gamble was set to fail spectacularly as Milan collected only

eight points from its opening seven matches. However, the team

started to gel as the youngsters grew in confidence, with Stephan

El Shaarawy bursting onto the scene in style, and Milan climbed

steadily from 16th place to third. Milan has continued to focus on

youth and it will be interesting to see what the youngsters can

achieve with an added year of experience.

TRANSFER (IN)ACTIVITY

Milan has been widely expected to bring in a couple of players

this offseason to add experience to its youthful squad. However, it

has been relatively quiet in the transfer market, with its biggest

signing to date being Matias Silvestre from Inter Milan. It has

been linked to a number of players but the likes of Adam Ljajic,

Mamadou Sakho and Keisuke Honda are perhaps waiting to see if Milan

gets through the Champions League playoff round. It drew the first

leg 1-1 at PSV Eindhoven. Failure to qualify for the competition

proper could have a serious impact on its domestic fortunes as

Milan would then struggle to attract important players.