With a red-and-black scarf wrapped around his neck, Colombian striker Carlos Bacca arrived this Sunday at Milan’s Malapense airport, in order to join his new teammates at AC Milan for the first time.
“My aim is to do my best, get a lot of goals, take Milan back to the top,” he told the local press.
But returning the Rosssoneri to a position of glory won’t be an easy feat, nor one Bacca could tackle all by himself. The folks at Milan know this. In fact, the $30 million Colombian is only one piece in a barrage of signings intended to improve the fortunes of the legendary Italian club, which finished in an embarrassing 10th-place league position last season.
Bacca, who lands at Milan after winning back-to-back Europa League titles with Sevilla, arrives accompanied by Brazilian striker Luiz Adriano and Italian midfielder Andrea Bertolacci. The former scored seven times in nine Champions League appearances for Shakhtar Donetsk last season; while the latter has been, for the past three-years, an integral part of Genoa’s relative success.
Yet, as AC Milan assemble reinforcements, on the other side of the city’s color spectrum, eternal rivals Inter Milan have not been quiet. The Nerazurri, who similarly fell short of expectations with an eighth-place finish last season, have also made a series of exciting loans and purchases, the most prominent of which was the signing of French central midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia, who was snatched away from Monaco – and from AC Milan’s own interest – for a whopping $30 million.
Besides the addition of the Frenchman, Inter have also made a number of moves designed to completely renovate the team’s defensive line, including the purchases of 22-year old Colombian center-back Jeison Murillo – one of the most exciting talents showcased in this summer’s Copa América – as well as the acquisitions of Atletico’s Joao Miranda and Barcelona’s Martin Montoya on season-long loans.
As Bacca emerged from the airport’s doors this Sunday, there was one other name in the mouths of the press aside from his: that of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has been strongly linked by the Italian media with a return to the Rossoneri this summer.
“I don’t know what will happen, but if he came he could help us,” Bacca said.
The message is clear: in spite of the nearly $60 million already spent on raking in new players, expectations for further additions are still high among the fans and the press surrounding the team. But while Milan’s owner, Silvio Berlusconi, has himself recognized he would be delighted to see Ibra back in the club’s jersey, matching the Swede’s enormous salary at Paris Saint-Germain might prove to be a stumbling block in the way of a potential transfer. A more realistic target seems to be Roma’s 20-year-old center-back Alessandro Romagnoli, for whom Milan have already made a $25 million bid.
At Inter’s headquarters, similarly, the board is not yet satisfied, and all efforts are now focused on completing the signing of Wolfsburg forward Ivan Perisic, whose agent has publicly recognized the interest of his client in joining the Italian club. But the 26-year old Croatian is still waiting for both sides to come to terms regarding his price. Inter’s latest offer is said to be close to $20 million.
Both Milanese teams have also had to unload some excess weight: AC Milan sent Stephan El-Shaarawy off on a season-long loan to Monaco, while Inter head coach Roberto Mancini has recognized that he will be forced to sell either Xherdan Shaqiri or Davide Santon before the start of the season.
Still, with all of their new signings, both sides should be on a track out of mid-table purgatory; and, given some skillful management, and a bit of luck in what remains of the transfer window, they could easily be contenders for next season’s Champions League spots.