It’s done, it’s finally happened. For the first time since the 2013/14 season, AC Milan have qualified for the Champions League. It’s been a long and tough journey, including the ups and downs of this season, but the 2020/21 season will always be seen as a major victory for Milan. One of football’s sleeping giants and most storied clubs have made it over the hump and moved down the right path.
AC Milan Season Review
The Domestic Ups and Downs
Milan started the season on fire. For multiple weeks they were first in Serie A and looked primed to win the Scudetto. Zlatan Ibrahimovic did say that Milan would win a title with him for a full season, and although they didn’t, they finished second.
Injuries, however, were a constant theme that dampened the flow of the season. Ibrahimovic is the team’s best attacker by far, yet he missed nearly half the season. Ismael Bennacer, one of the most decisive players and a do-it-all jackknife in the midfield, also missed extended time. The duo are two of the club’s top players, so who knows what could’ve happened if they stayed healthy.
Milan’s final four games were excellent, barring one. Against Juventus, where a loss could’ve theoretically ended the season, Milan looked dominant and trashed the Cristiano Ronaldo-lead squad 3-0. They stayed in Turin, and a few days later demolished Torino 7-0. The Champions League was in their sights, and all they needed was a victory against Cagliari. That ultimately did not happen, as the team could not overcome the pressure and looked completely lost in their 0-0 draw. Doom and gloom came back to the club, a feeling all too familiar to Milan faithful. A victory over second-placed Atalanta, the best attack in Serie A, was needed. This, of course, happened. Milan won 2-0 thanks to two penalties from Franck Kessie. The game wasn’t pretty, but the job was done.
Milan overcame obstacle after obstacle this season and showed true team spirit en route to their first Champions League clinching season in seven years.
The Best and Worst AC Milan Performers
Franck Kessie also shone and stood above the pack as the best midfielder. He finished with 13 goals and six assists in 37 league appearances. Most of the goals were penalties, but it shows the trust placed in the Ivorian. He plays with heart every single match and is a true warrior on the field. Kessie is Milan’s player of the season.
Ibrahimovic was the attack’s star. All in all, the attack was somewhat balanced, but Ibrahimovic’s leadership and scoring prowess remain impressive. In 19 league matches, he has 15 goals and two assists.
Alessio Romagnoli was not a bad performer, but the captain lost his starting place to Tomori. His future is something to keep an eye on.
Hakan Calhanoglu finished with four goals and ten assists, which is strong, but he disappeared far too often in big matches.
One player whose future should be outside of Milan is Samu Castillejo. It’s clear he is passionate about the club, but his performances are never up to par. He was the team’s most consistent flop.
Best and Worst AC Milan Transfer
The best transfer for Milan was that of Fikayo Tomori. On loan from Chelsea, Tomori will surely be bought for his €28 million option-to-buy price tag. He took over a starting position and became an absolute stud in the defence. Tomori is one of Milan’s main future pieces.
Brahim Diaz was also a fantastic loan addition, although he wasn’t a consistent starter like Tomori.
Mario Mandzukic was the worst transfer. Coming in January, Mandzukic never got anything going with Milan. This, of course, isn’t his fault as much of it was attributed to injuries, but all in all, he offered very little.
The one transfer to keep an eye on is that of Sandro Tonali. The Italian youngster has all the potential in the world but didn’t see the pitch as much as he wished. It’s way too early to deem his transfer a failure.
What’s Coming Next?
There will be a full focus on upgrading the squad. Milan is at their strongest in nearly a decade, but the Champions League will be tough.
The majority of additions will likely be depth options. Striker and right-winger are glaring holes, however. Milan cannot solely rely on Ibrahimovic, as good as he still is, at striker as father time is slowly approaching. They’ll likely look to add a young striker who’s also capable of starting.
Right-wing is desperately needed. Castillejo cannot be an option anymore. Alexis Saelemaekers is solid, and earned a spot on the team, but is better suited as a substitute.
Donnarumma’s contract is up this summer, but he’s a cornerstone of the team. Milan cannot let him slip away. Calhanoglu’s contract will also be over, and this will be an interesting decision. The Turkish international can star at times, but Milan can realistically find an upgrade.
The goals for next season will be to win the Scudetto and attempt a run in the Champions League (the Round of 16 at worst).