4 Players AC Milan Should Target This Summer
New manager Clarence Seedorf had received plaudits for his early work in resurrecting the fortunes of the Rossoneri, but his position has come under increased scrutiny following this latest run of negative results.
However, upon Seedorf's arrival in January, it was evident that a fair assessment of his managerial prowess would have to wait until sometime next season given the dearth of quality in the squad he inherited from Massimilano Allegri.
It is true that Milan possess certain assets that many clubs would love to have—Stephan El Shaarawy and Mattia De Sciglio come to mind, with several youngsters breaking through to the senior squad.
With Mario Balotelli as the undisputed talisman, however, things were always going to be nervy for Milan given his inconsistency to date in his career.
Relying on veterans like Kaka and Michael Essien is risky, as they are no longer capable of producing without significant recovery time between matches.
Furthermore, players like Daniele Bonera, Philippe Mexes, Urby Emanuelson and Kevin Constant, among others, have received far too much playing time for a club the caliber of Milan.
It is essential that Seedorf makes his mark on this squad by bringing in some fresh faces for the upcoming season.
Goalkeeper: Mattia Perin
Mattia Perin is a highly rated Italian goalkeeper currently plying his trade for Genoa. The 21-year-old follows in the tradition of top-class Italian goalkeepers and would make an excellent addition to the Rossoneri for years to come.
His value is equal to that of Diego Lopez and Pepe Reina already (according to transfermarkt), implying that even at such a young age he is viewed as an upper-echelon prospect.
Of course, at just 21, his value will only go up, and there is considerable interest in the recently called-up Italy international.
Milan would do well to act quickly and strike up a deal with Genoa to secure one of the brightest talents in Italy. Doing so would be a tremendous first step in establishing a firm policy of finding talented youth players to build for the future.
At €10 million, the price tag is fairly steep, but it is a safe bet to assume it will only get higher as time passes, meaning the time is now for Milan to act.
A center-back by trade, Dória would represent a significant signing for the future, as he is just 19 years of age.
Seedorf has familiarity with him from his time at Botafogo in Brazil, where Dória still plays. As such, it is logical to assume that Seedorf would know his strengths and weaknesses better than most observers and would hopefully be able to accelerate his growth at Milan.
Already capped by Brazil, Dória stands roughly 6'2" tall and could offer a strong aerial presence alongside Adil Rami at the heart of Milan's defense.
While asking for Dória to become the next Thiago Silva is unrealistic and unfair to the player himself, his potential is undeniable, and he would come at a cost that Milan could presumably stomach.
Most importantly, he would arguably already be an upgrade over the likes of Bonera and Mexes at the back, and he would be an important asset to build around.
The Brazilian defensive midfielder has seen his value rise dramatically over the past several years at Porto, and he has attracted the attention of a number of world-renowned sides, such as Manchester United and Inter Milan.
The 26-year-old would be an instant upgrade over Michael Essien and Nigel de Jong and would provide the Rossoneri with depth and quality at the defensive midfield position.
Alongside Riccardo Montolivo and/or de Jong, Milan would be a far more dangerous proposition and could develop a strong spine in the middle of the park with Rami and proposed signing Dória as well.
Fernando would be expensive and would not likely arrive unless Milan were to sell off some other midfield players. He recently extended his contract with Porto until 2017, giving the Portuguese side the leverage in any talks.
While he would be costly, his arrival would immensely solidify the middle of the park for Milan with his energy and dynamism, especially against tougher attacking sides like Juventus, Napoli and Fiorentina.
Forward/Winger: Alessio Cerci
Cerci has enjoyed an excellent campaign with Torino, forming a strong partnership with Ciro Immobile as the duo have led Torino to the upper half of the table for much of the season.
Cerci has experience as both a right winger and as a second striker and could prove extremely valuable in Seedorf's 4-2-3-1 formation.
Presumably, Stephan El Shaarawy will be healthy for next season and will assume a spot on the left wing, while Keisuke Honda and Kaka can share the central attacking midfield role behind one of Balotelli or Giampaolo Pazzini.
Honda's indifferent form this season has been worrying, but his deployment in the right-wing role does not suit his strengths and has made his transition to Italian football more of a challenge than initially expected.
With Honda in his favored, effective position in the center of the field, and two players in El Shaarawy and Cerci who specialize on the wings on either side of the field, Seedorf would have the personnel to fit his vision as well as the versatility provided by Cerci and El Shaarawy to switch around his formation when any of his players suffer dips in form, injury or just need a rest.
At 26, he should be hitting his peak over the next several years, and a fine showing at the World Cup may serve to increase his value even further. It would be prudent for Milan to act fast if they were to look into securing his signature for next year.
Cerci would not come cheaply, meaning that Milan would almost certainly have to offload Robinho and/or Alessandro Matri to fund his signing, but his arrival would immensely strengthen Milan's starting XI.