Inter vs AC Milan: Ranking greatest players to play for both sides, featuring Ronaldo, Vieira, Pirlo

Two giants of Italian football clash later on today in the Derby Della Madonninaotherwise known as ‘The Milan Derby.’

Arguably the most prestigious rivalry in Italy, it’s been a long time since these two powerhouses were battling it out for a Serie A title.

The demise of Juventus has left the door open for the Milanese clubs to mount a challenge, one that Inter certainly rose to last year.

And with both Inter and AC Milan well in contention for the Serie A title this season – not to mention meeting again tonight in the semi-final of the Coppa Italia – all roads point to a power shift in Italian football.

Players transcending the rivalry

It’s always been a fierce rivalry the Milan derby but it’s also always been unique. For one, they share the San Siro Stadium and that’s pretty rare amongst elite European football.

Yet beyond that, the amount of world class players that have plied their trade on both sides of the city lines is simply staggering.

We’ve compiled a list of the eight best players to ever do the business for both Inter and AC Milan.

Check it out below:

8. Hernan Crespo

The lethal Argentinian poacher played 116 times for Inter across three different spells with the club. He also spent a year with AC Milan in 2004/2005, where he played a key role in the Champions League campaign that eventually saw the Rossoneri defeated in the final by Liverpool.

Quite the journeyman, but a successful one at that, Crespo is a three time Serie A champion and five time Italian Super Cup winner.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 23: Hernan Crespo of AC Milan scores the winning goal during the UEFA Champions League first leg match between Manchester United and AC Milan at Old Trafford on February 23, 2005 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

7. Edgar Davids

The iconic Dutchman might have ended his career with Barnet, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t mix it with the best when in his prime – although, he did actually make more appearances for Barnet than either of these Italian giants.

Davids won an Italian Cup with Inter in 2004/2005 and racked up three Serie A winners medals when playing for Juventus. A serial winner with Ajax and Barcelona also, we simply couldn’t ignore him for a spot on this list.

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Edgar Davids 2002

6. Patrick Vieira

Vieira is best known for his time spent at Arsenal, so it’s easy to forget he is a five time Italian champion. After leaving the Gunners, Vieira spent four years at the heart of Inter’s midfield and was a major catalyst in the club romping to four straight Serie A.

Lesser known, though, is his time spent at AC Milan. The Frenchman spent a single season at the club in 1995/1996 where he made only five appearances and sneaked himself another league title. Yes, it still counts…

GENOA, ITALY – JANUARY 28: Patrick Vieira of Inter Milan tackles Francesco Flachi (R) of Sampdoria during the Serie A match between Sampdoria and Inter Milan on January 28, 2007 in Genoa, Italy. (Photo by New Press/Getty Images)

5. Roberto Baggio

Ah, ‘The Divine Ponytail’, who didn’t this man play for in Italy? Best known for his time with Juventus, Inter, and AC Milan, Baggio is widely regarded to be Italy’s most gifted player ever.

Being the recipient of the Ballon d’Or in 1993 tells you all you need to know about this man. In terms of team accomplishments, he won two Serie A titles, but most definitely underachieved and has left many Italians wondering what might have been.

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Baggio

4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The greatest Swedish player of all time. That’s an absolute given seems as he has been granted the accolade of ‘Swedish Player of the Year’ on no less than 15 occasions at this point. However, Zlatan does also happen to be one of the finest forwards of his generation.

Winner of three Serie A titles with Inter and one with Milan, not to mention the countless honours he has earnt everywhere else he has been across his career – Ibrahimovic will go down as one of the most decorated players in history.

NAPLES, ITALY – MARCH 06: Zlatan Ibrahimovic of AC Milan during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and AC Milan at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on March 06, 2022 in Naples, . (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

3. Clarence Seedorf

Seedorf enjoyed a glittering career that saw him make a combined total of 523 appearances for the Milan teams. Famously, he is the only player to win the Champions League with three different clubs and has won Europe’s premier competition on a staggering five occasions.

That is some resume.

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Clarence Seedorf Champions League AC Milan

2. Andrea Pirlo

You wouldn’t find many disagreeing with you if you were to declare Pirlo the most graceful football ever lived. After initially enduring an unhappy spell at Inter, Pirlo made the switch to AC Milan in 2001 and never looked back.

Between 2001-2011, he spent a decade pulling the strings at the heart of the Rossoneri’s midfield before making the switch to Juventus. By the time he hung up his boots in 2018, the Italian maestro had racked up six Serie A titles, two Champions Leagues and a World Cup to boot.

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Pirlo lines up for a Champions League game with AC Milan.
  1. Ronaldo

O Fenômeno didn’t spend long in Italy, he didn’t even win any team honours in his time there. Yet, there is no denying Ronaldo number one spot.

The Brazilian did win the FIFA Best Men’s Player award in 1997 and the World Footballer of the Year award in 1998 when at Inter, so he has some individual honours to back him up – but in terms of the calibre of player he’s going up against here, Ronaldo is so far clear.

23 Oct 1999: Ronaldo of Inter Milan celebrates after scoring during the Serie A match against AC Milan played at the San Siro, in Milan, Italy. AC Milan won the match 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Claudio Villa /Allsport

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