AC Milan: All-time XI

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Despite their disappointing third-place finish in Serie A last season, AC Milan remain amongst the most successful clubs in European football history.

Famous for producing arguably one of the best club sides in the history of the sport (1988-94), the red side of Milan currently holds seven Champions Leagues (second to only Real Madrid), 18 league titles and six individual Ballon d'Or winners. 

Here, we take a look at one possible assortment of a greatest Rossoneri XI.

Formation: 3-4-3

This unorthodox formation features three central defenders, two central midfielders, two wide (attacking) midfielders and three strikers.

Manager: Carlo Ancelotti (Player: 1987-1992), (Manager: 2001-2009)

With the likes of Fabio Capello and Arrigo Sacchi also up for contention, it is Ancelotti's longevity and sustained success over an extended period of time that shines through. In his eight years as the manager, Ancelotti delivered a league title, a domestic title, and more impressively, two Champions Leagues in three finals. 

Goalkeeper: Sebastiano Rossi (1990-2002)

With only a small pool of truly great Rossoneri goalkeepers to choose from, Sebastiano Rossi is the pick of the bunch. Rossi was blessed with the goalkeeper role in the team later billed as The Invincibles, a side that went on to win four Serie A titles in five seasons under Fabio Capello. Rossi lasted 929 minutes between the sticks without defeat, eclipsing the previous record held by Italian legend, Dino Zoff. 

Central defender: Paolo Maldini (1985-2009)

The most decorated and revered Rossoneri player of all time, Maldini holds the Serie A and Milan appearance record (647 & 902), and has witnessed an unprecedented amount of success, spanning across three decades. Most notable of these are his seven Serie A titles, six domestic cups and an astonishing five European Cups (Champions League). His number 3 shirt is one of two retired numbers at the club. Without a shadow of doubt, the first name on this list.

Central defender: Franco Baresi (1977-1997)

The other retired number (number 6), Baresi is every bit the Milan legend Maldini is. He was (and still is) amongst the greatest sweepers in the history of world football. His resume includes six Serie A titles, two Serie B titles, five domestic titles and three European Cups. 

Central defender: Alessandro Costacurta (1986-2007)

With the third highest amount of appearances in Milan history (663), Costacurta (also known as Billy) was a vital component of the team later billed as one of the greatest club sides of all time, alongside the likes of Van Basten, Gullit and Baresi. His decades at Milan saw him collect seven Serie A titles, six domestic titles and five European Cups/UCLs. 

Central midfielder: Gianni Rivera (1960-1979)

Rivera captained 13 of his 19 seasons at the San Siro. He was commonly described as a tactically intelligent, classy pass-master. An admirable trait, the central midfielder played his whole career at the one club, delivering Milan three league titles, four domestic titles and two European Cups whilst also being awarded the 1969 European Player of the Year.

Central midfielder: Andrea Pirlo (2001-2011)

In a move that Inter Milan would later live to regret, a 22-year-old Pirlo was allowed to leave for AC Milan from inter-city rivals, Internazionale.

The regista quickly established himself as a vital cog in Ancelotti's industrious Milan side, playing alongside Gattuso and Seedorf in midfield. L'architetto was renowned for his exceptional passing range and ability, coupled with his proficiency from set pieces. His time an Milan resulted in two league titles, two domestic titles and two Champions Leagues from three finals.

Right midfield: Kaka (2003-2009), (2013-)

The 2007 Ballon d'Or winner occupies the right wing of this Milan XI. Kaka was described by Ruud Gullit as one of the few players in the world faster with the ball than without it. The Brazilian midfielder arrived from Sao Paulo without much fanfare, and left for Real Madrid as the greatest footballer on the planet (alongside Ronaldo).

He possessed an astute positional sense and tremendous ball control. His tenure at the club coincided with a league title, a domestic title and a Champions League. The list, however, is set to grow, following his return to Milan.

Left midfield: Ruud Gullit (1987-1993), (1994-1995)

The incredibly versatile Dutchman occupied one third of Milan's famous Dutch trio, alongside Rijkaard and Van Basten. He began his PSV career as a sweeper, before moving forward to play directly behind the striker. However, his versatility meant he possessed the skill set required to play anywhere on the pitch.

He coupled his robust physique with extraordinary vision, technique and goal-scoring prowess. His time at Milan brought the club three league titles, three domestic titles and two European Cups.

Left centre forward: Andriy Shevchenko (1999-2006), (2008-2009)

Continuing the trend of successful foreign strikers at AC Milan, Shevchenko arrived at the club with a record-breaking transfer fee in 1999 from Dynamo Kyiv. The price tag, however, was fully justified, as the greatest Ukrainian footballer of all time currently lies second on Milan's all-time scoring charts, sitting on an astonishing 127 goals.

This equates to a strike rate of 0.61 goals per game over six years. His (first) tenure at the club resulted in a Serie A title, two domestic titles, a Champions League and most notably, the 2004 Ballon d'Or.

Centre forward: Gunnar Nordahl (1949-1956)

Renowned for his goalscoring prowess, the Swedish legend lies at first place on the Rossoneri scoring charts, scoring 210 goals in his 257 appearances for the club, an astonishing strike rate of 0.82 goals a game for seven years. His cursory beginning to life in Italy saw him deliver 69 goals in his first two seasons.

The Milan icon holds the Serie A record for most Capocannoniere awards (top scorer) in history, with five in six years. His goals delivered the club two Serie A titles, four domestic titles and two Coppa Latina titles (predecessor of the European Cup).

Right centre forward: Marco van Basten (1987-1995) 

The centrepiece of Milan's Dutch contingent of the late 80s/early 90s, Marco van Basten is another case of 'What Could Have Been', when his recurring ankle injury cruelly forced him to retire at the tender age of 30, following two years on the sideline. The precocious Dutchman was the complete striker, combining his tall yet flexible, agile physique with the inherent (almost visceral) ability to score from almost anywhere in absolutely any manner.

Until very recently, Van Basten held the equal record for most amount of Ballon d'Ors, winning the award on three occasions (1988, '89, '92), in a significantly shorter amount of time than any of his then-equals (Cruyff and Platini). The star figure in one of the greatest club sides of all time, despite effectively having his career cut short at the age of 28, Van Basten showed enough to prove he was amongst the greatest players in the history of the sport to have graced a football pitch.

Honourable mentions:

Fabio Capello


Alessandro Nesta

Frank Rijkaard

Nils Leidholm 

Filippo Inzaghi

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