Milan is imposing a ceiling on transfer fees, and making cuts of over 30%. This is the message the management has been sending to Via Turati in recent weeks. It’s the initial effect of the economic crisis and major changes in the pipeline for the Rossonero club. Silvio Berlusconi has made it clear to Adriano Galliani: “Tighten your belts because you’re spending too much.” The cuts may also be extended to acquisitions as well. Indeed, since Thiago Silva’s transfer in January, all talks to buy Dan Agger from Liverpool have been frozen: a deal worth €8 million or so. To replace Paolo Maldini, Milan will have to start looking to the less high-profile market of defenders at the end of their contracts, i.e. the cost-free market. Or relatively cost-free.
No one from AC Milan will admit it but at such a difficult time, managing director Galliani is trying to keep a tight ship in the run up to their Champions bid. But news of the cuts for next season has gotten as far as Milanello. The players and their agents have been informed and this is creating a bit of alarm. This is the first time since Berlusconi has been at the helm that financial concerns have been raised and this could lead to some fatal decisions.
Milan is currently the top total fee-payer along with Massimo Moratti’s Inter. With a total gross expenditure of €120 million, they are miles ahead (with the exception of Juventus who has spent €115 million) of Roma way down in fourth place with €65 million. In the new cost-cutting era, the Rossoneri team would drop to a budget of €80 to €85 million. Such a relegation would force them into a supporting role and into taking a step backwards with serious repercussions for the whole environment. How will the cuts be decided?
Ricardo Kakà is currently the highest paid player at €9 million per season. It’s no secret that Real Madrid may soon make an offer worth its weight in gold for him. In January, the Brazilian player signed an important agreement with the club: no more raises. This would suggest the club is keen on keeping Kakà, unless they get any outrageous offers for him. Milan is probably more concerned about other situations at risk at the moment. Like having 29 fully signed players at present. The plan is to let at least three of them go, or to replace them with younger, less expensive players.
Without a doubt, some of the big names will have to make some concessions if they want to be safe. The most striking example would be Nelson Dida. The keeper has a fee of €4 million until 2010: that’s €8 million gross. A bit much for a reserve and it goes without saying that Milan will try to sell him. Likewise for Emerson: his fee also weighs very heavy on the bench. And the same goes for Ambrosini and Favalli and their chances of renewing their contracts. And all the others. It takes this and more to achieve true reformation.