Football

AC Milan struggles continue

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AC Milan are regarded as one of the biggest clubs in Europe; they have as rich a history as the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Liverpool and Bayern Munich. 

They are seven time European Champions and 18 time Serie A winners; they play in the wonderful venue of the San Siro, and have had some of the world's finest players represent them. 

High Caliber

Some of Italy's greatest ever players have had the honour of playing for Milan: Andrea Pirlo, Carlo Ancelotti, Paolo Maldini, Filippo Inzaghi and Gennaro Gattuso have all featured for the club. 

A lot of Holland's greatest players have also represented Milan: Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit, Clarence Seedorf and Marco Van Basten have all won a European cup at this fantastic football club. 

Not to mention Brazilian World Cup winners: Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Dida and Cafu to add to this glittering list which also includes former ballon D'or winner, Kaka. You can also add Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andriy Shevchenko and David Beckham to the list of elite players to represent them. 

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The list goes on, and I've probably missed off some incredible players so how have Milan come to where they are now? 

Downhill

Milan haven't won Serie A since 2011; they've only reached the UEFA Champions League quarter finals once since winning the competition. 

The downfall has been slow, but over the course of the last to season it's taken a dramatic drop. So where does this date back to? From Champions League winners to mediocrity within seven and a half years. 

Two years after their European triumph, the club's leading all time appearance maker Paolo Maldini retired from football.  Maldini made 902 appearances and was captain of the club for 12 years: his presence on and of the pitch was sorely missed. 

Not only have Milan had the world's best footballers, they've also had some of the most loyal. Aswell as Maldini, many stayed with club for over a decade. 

In 2012 a lot of those players left the club or retired. Milan said farewell to Inzaghi, who scored 126 goals in 300 appearances during an 11 year spell. 

They also said goodbye to Gennaro Gattuso, regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world in his prime. His aggression, energy and his reading of the game were pivotal in Milan's success; he was there for 13 years. 

Alessandro Nesta and Clarence Seedorf were other influential players who left the club in 2012, both served 10 years at Milan. 

The next year Milan dropped from second to third. Not too bad. That summer they brought in Ricardo Montolivo, Nigel De Jong, Bojan and Mario Balotelli. Apart from Montolivo, these players are unlikely to stick around like Maldini or Gatusso did. 

In the summer of 2013,Massimo Ambrosini left after 17 years at the club which consisted of 489 appearances and 36 goals. The heart and soul of the team that had dominated Serie A and went great guns in Europe for over a decade had all of a sudden disappeared.

The return of Kaka couldn't stop Milan's slumber to an eighth place finish in Serie A last season - it cost Massimo Allegri his job. All of a sudden no one knew what Milan's strongest 11 was and the squad became unbalanced.

The fans also began to turn against the team; the return of legend, Clarence Seedorf wasn't enough to change the opinion around the San Siro. 

Now and the future

Things haven't improved this season under Inzaghi. Milan currently sit ninth. They sold Mario Balotelli and replaced him with an unconfident Fernando Torres, who has already left the club. 

It's fair to say luck hasn't been with Milan either in terms of injuries. For example they only have one available recognised centre back for their next game against Lazio in the Coppa Italia. 

Milan sit 10th in Serie A so how will they climb back to where they should be? Without Champions League football and the distance they are from it means it will be difficult to attract the top bracket of players. This is AC Milan though and their history and playing in the San Siro will be a big pulling factor for players. 

If Milan can find a settled line up and sneak back into Europa League then that will be a good building block. They still have talent at the club which includes the likes of Jeremy Menez, Keisuke Honda and Ricardo Montolivo. 

It would be great to see this marvellous football club return to where they should be sooner rather than later. It's a shame to see them struggling and hopefully they will be challenging for European glory again. 

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Topics:
Football
AC Milan
Serie A

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