AC Milan: Serie A 2013/14 Preview

AC Milan looking forward to title challenge and a full year of Balotelli

After a horrible start last season, a rejuvenated Milan, with the help of a certain ill-mannered forward, were able to push for third place and salvage the season. This season, hopefully, will be less frustrating.

Mario Ballotelli
Coach Massimiliano Allegri is still at AC Milan and Mario Balotelli is set for his full season at AC Milan, alongside a stronger Stephen El Shaarawy and a growing M'Baye Niang. Robinho is also still at Milan. The club has reinforced the defence and midfield.

Last Season

After the departure of Alessandro Nesta, Thiago SIlva, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Antonio Cassano and Clarence Seedorf, among others, it would have been unfair to expect too much from the team, especially after the defeats against Inter Milan, Juventus (twice), and Real Madrid foreshadowed the strength and limitation of the squad.

But it was made brutally real after three losses in the first four games and two wins in the first ten games. Thankfully, five wins, one draw and two losses in November and December helped end the year on a good note. The team then managed thirteen wins, six draws and only one loss in the new year, catapulting the squad into a third place finish and Champions league playoffs. Also, Barcelona happened in the Champions league, Juventus in the Coppa Italia.

Who's Gone?

Alexandre Pato
The duck who couldn't break his injury duck, managed to break a few hearts and complete a transfer to Brazilian giants Corinthians for a fee of €15 million in the January transfer window. He started his career there by scoring on his first touch and seems to be on his way past the muscular injury issues but never out of the hearts of Milan fans. For all of his problems, he was/is a promising striker who most wanted to do well.

Massimo Abrosini
Bojan Krkic
Another young promising striker who couldn't find his feet after coming on loan from AS Roma and scoring only three goals in 27 appearances. He returned to his main club Barcelona, before being loaned out to Ajax, where he will --still only 22-- try and rediscover the promise that he had once upon a time.

Mathieu Flamini
The team and player did not agree on a contract extension and he is gone. It's sad but not too important.

Massimo Ambrosini
18 years, Captain since 2009. Full of running, passion and the greatest professional since the captain who he inherited the armband from (Maldini). Fought through injuries to help the team, but unfortunately, could not fight age any longer. He was visibly slow, and becoming a tactical liability outweighed the gains from leadership and intelligence. He's going to Fiorentina.
Taye Taiwo and Mario Yepes have also left.

Who's In?

Matias Silvestre
One year loan from Inter with an option for a full purchase for a fee of €4 million for the 28 year old Argentine. They always say, beware of enemies baring gifts, but you can't be too cautious of defenders when you have Phillippe Mexes as a starting centre-back. Suffered an injury to his thigh after only nine appearances for Inter last season, but should add depth to a thin back line.

Andrea Poli
Andrea Poli
Co-ownership with Sampdoria for the 23-year old playmaker, who should help out with the issues of "slow/old midfielders" that has troubled Milan for years. Also, a very good passer who will enjoy the movement of Balotelli and El Sharaawy.

Urby Emanuelson
After being loaned out to Fulham in an odd move last year, the 27-year old all-left-everything player returns to Milan to help out with the lack of quality depth. Much more experienced after a good spell at the English club, he should become a starter and help take off pressure from the young Mattia De Sciglio.

Bryan Cristante
The promising promoted 18-year old midfielder is in line to see first team action this year. Definitely a player that can contribute from the beginning if he can settle in Serie A with his impressive vision and close control and dribbling. A very exciting prospect.

AC Milan have re-signed Kak√° from Real Madrid CF. The playmaker has rejoined the club he left in a €65m transfer in June 2009 on a reported two-year deal (and free transfer). He will embrace the opportunity of feeding Ballotelli, and could be the key in AC Milan's Serie A campaign.

Keep An Eye On

Nigel de Jong
After rupturing his left achilles in his initial season at Milan, the midfield will look to de Jong this year to steady the ship. One of the few players on the team with a defensive mindset, he will be critical in stopping the team from being over-ran by more dynamic teams and hopefully take some pressure off the defence.

Predicted Finish

Hopefully the first part of the season doesn't try to emulate last year's and the team can start off on a better foot. Balotelli should do well. El Shaarawy looks faster, stronger and will be determined to prove his development and Niang should develop even further. If everything goes to plan, Milan should be up for the title challenge or at least top three finish.

Kaka is back at AC Milan