“There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.”
It’s been an exciting summer for AC Milan.
10 years ago the Italian side were champions of Europe, but the club has slipped into mediocrity in the decade since that 2007 triumph over Liverpool in Athens.
Milan finished sixth in Serie A last season, 28 points off champions Juventus, and 23 off Champions League qualification.
They have not won the Scudetti since 2011, and haven’t competed in Europe for three years.
The club’s new chief executive Marco Fassone even used the eloquently comparison of a classic car that had been allowed to gather dust.
However, the signs suggest that the tide is turning for the sleeping giants, and there is plenty of cause for optimism looking forward.
“It’s been, and still is, a summer of dreams,” Milan boss Vincenzo Montella said.
“But the beauty is that my dreams have come true, and yet we’re still not done…the club are doing something extraordinary.”
56,000 tickets have already been sold for the club’s third qualifying round Europa League clash with Universitatea Craiova – Milan won the first leg 1-0 – at the San Siro on Thursday night, with the eventual attendance expected to exceed 60,000.
21,000 season tickets have been sold thus far, which marks a stark contrast to the meagre 6,450 sold last year, in what was the worst sales in the 31 years of Silvio Berlusconi’s reign as the club’s owner. Berlusconi has sold the club to Chinese investors, who have invested heavily in the team in this transfer window.
AC have been one of the busiest clubs in Europe in the transfer window, and have splashed £150 million on the likes of Leonardo Bonucci, Andre Silva, Mateo Musacchio, Ricardo Rodriguez, Hakan Calhanoglu, and Andrea Conti already this summer.
Lucas Biglia, Fabio Borini and hot prospect Franck Kessie have also been added to their ranks, and fans were delighted when teenage goalkeeping prodigy Gigi Donnarumma agreed a new deal to extend his stay in Milan after fierce speculation linking the young Italian shot stopper with a move away from the club.
This blend of experience – Bonucci, at 30, remains one of the finest defenders in world football – and youth makes for an exciting squad which already contained players such as captain Riccardo Montolivo and Suso, and even the most cautious of fans will be optimistic that AC can at least close that 23 point gap to Napoli, who clinched the final Champions League spot in the division.
Milan’s spending shows no signs of slowing. The Rossoneri have been linked with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Diego Costa and Renato Sanchez in recent days, and Fassone claimed recently that “it’d be nice to have one from Andrea Belotti, Alvaro Morata or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.”
A 4-0 pre-season win over Bayern Munich has added fuel to fans’ optimism that the fourth most successful club side in world history (with 18 officially recognised UEFA and FIFA titles) can have a big impact on Serie A next season.
Milan’s potential revival would certainly benefit the Italian league, which has seen Juventus win six consecutive titles since ‘Il Diavolo’s’ last triumph.
The first step is to successfully navigate their way to the Europa League group stages.
The journey continues on Thursday night at the San Siro.