Serie A: Is This Really the Future for AC Milan

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Election time in Italy is a pretty tense period. Walls are plastered with candidates’ posters promising a better future, newspapers get filled with equally empty promises and television shows are brimming with politicians bickering over everything.

Yet there’s always time for football. Just ask Silvio Berlusconi who was first seen talking with Ronaldinho’s agent (after a television crew had been ‘surprisingly’ tipped off that this meeting was taking place) and then used the biggest political show on the eve of the election to admit that the deal to sign up the Brazilian was practically done.

Then again Berlusconi is famous for his ability to knit football within his political agenda. This is after all the man who famously used a popular football chant – Forza Italia – as his political party’s name. His speeches are also often peppered with football speak with talk of a ‘winning team’ and ‘playing at home’.

Much more subtle has been his zeal so that Milan projects certain values. It is why winning the Champions League has become so important for the club (apart from the obvious financial gains) as it projects an image of an Italian side being successful in Europe. The political projection of this for Berlusconi this is that he can make Italy important again in a world context.

Above all, Berlusconi wants Milan to win with style and class. Not for him success achieved through dogged defensiveness. It is why Ronaldinho is so important for Berlusconi. The Brazilian embodies flair and creativity, which are exactly the values that Berlusconi wants the Italians to associate with him.

The Andriy Shevchenko deal, another one mentioned publicly by Berlusconi during his political campaign, is just as loaded. When the Ukranian left for Chelsea, it was against the club’s wishes and there was a lot of resentment against him. Adriano Galliani went as far as publicly stating that he wasn’t welcome back.

All of which made Berlusconi’s late admission that there was always space for Sheva a surprising one until you remember that Berlusconi has twice been Italy’s prime minister. The implication to the voters: if Berlusconi was man enough to forgive and welcome back someone like Shevchenko, why shouldn’t you give Berlusconi another chance at running the country?

The ploy worked. Even though it is difficult to evaluate what sort of effect they may have had, football has often been Berlusconi’s trump card.

Such considerations, however, hardly lend themselves to team building much less the total overhaul which is what Milan need. An ageing striker and another with little motivation to train certainly won’t solve their problems, not even if they’re followed by another not-so-young addition in the form of Gianluca Zambrotta who has hardly been spectacular for Barcelona. But again, bringing Zambrotta back to Italy is another move that looks good for a country that is suffering from the hemorrhage of its finest minds.

This transfer strategy isn’t going well with Milan’s ultras who, for the first time in over two decades are showing their discontent with Berlusconi. His reticence to spend in the past saw Milan miss out on Gianluigi Buffon, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Amauri. These misses may have been forgiven but not forgotten.

It will take much more than the names currently being mentioned to ensure that.


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