BLOG ITALIA
Wednesday September 4 2013
Milan’s Matri-mony

Alessandro Matri’s Milan return was met with uncertainty. Luca Cetta charts the path to his return and wonders where he fits in.

Adriano Galliani promised action post-PSV. A lean summer to that crucial Champions League play-off was filled mostly with talk surrounding Keisuke Honda and Adem Ljajic. The former remained in Russia, the latter chose Roma. Galliani urged fans to sit tight and wait until progression was confirmed. In customary fashion, the Vice-President left big moves until late in the window.

In adding to the squad, Galliani looked to the past. One player stole the headlines. The 2007 Ballon d’Or winner and Rossoneri favourite son Kaka was released from Real Madrid to ensure a smooth passage back to Milanello. Galliani was coy on whether he could land the Brazilian, but then he usually is. And so, Kaka returned amid much fanfare.

Before Kaka was another return, one met not with enthusiasm, but apprehension. Nine seasons after leaving the San Siro, with stops in Prato, Lumezzane, Rimini, Cagliari and Turin, Alessandro Matri wears the black and red again.

News of a potential move was met negatively during the PSV qualifier. A banner reading ‘Matri, no thank you’ was unfurled, amongst others. Fans perceived the signing as unnecessary given their attacking strength in comparison to that of the defence, highlighted during the opening round defeat at Verona.

Yet Massimiliano Allegri claimed the €11m move was required given Giampaolo Pazzini’s knee injury. Galliani and Allegri deduced their last pieces of the summer puzzle lay in attack, not defence. There, Milan’s main signing was Matias Silvestre, arriving on loan from Inter as cover for the injured Daniele Bonera. Regular central defender Cristian Zapata has struggled through the opening fortnight this term.

Adding a dimension to the Matri switch is his understanding of Allegri and his tactical system. They both enjoyed a fruitful time at Cagliari towards the end of the last decade. In his first season Allegri guided the Rossoblu to ninth. In Matri’s second season he notched 13 goals in 38 games. It opened their paths to Milan and Juventus respectively.

In Turin, Matri became an Italian international and won consecutive Scudetti. Antonio Conte admitted he wanted the player to stay, calling the sale a sacrifice. “Matri is the striker who has scored the most goals here over the last two years. Technically speaking, I wasn’t expecting his sale or that of Emanuele Giaccherini. But Milan made an offer. I would never have sacrificed him if we were not in an economical crisis.”

Matri scored 27 Serie A goals in 69 appearances for Juve. The goals were instant following his January 2011 switch. Nine in 16 games was a good return, even if it was felt he arrived overpriced at €18m.

Matri was leading scorer with 10 strikes in 2011-12 as Juve pipped the Rossoneri to the championship, plus a further eight in their title defence, generally as a reserve. He netted a goal every 125 minutes last term, the best of any Juventus player. As a comparison, the player he replaces, Pazzini, scored 12 goals at a rate of every 136 minutes.

Despite his penchant for goals, the welcome home was mixed at best. Galliani evoked memories of Filippo Inzaghi’s 2001 Milan switch last week. Since then, only Nicola Legrottaglie has moved directly from Juve to the Rossoneri. Matri joins illustrious company in making such a move – Fabio Capello, Paolo Rossi and Roberto Baggio amongst the names. He also takes Pippo’s No 9 shirt. That furthers the narrative, but we are talking about two different strikers, even if they share a fox-in-the-box instinct.

Allegri sees his role as a critical one: “Matri played a crucial role for Juventus and he is the player we were looking for. Mario Balotelli, who is extraordinary, needs someone of Matri’s characteristics by his side. They make the perfect partnership.”

It’s a reunion for the pair. Both Matri and Balotelli wore the Rossoblu shirt of Lumezzane in 2005-06. There, Balotelli made his professional debut aged 15. He featured twice, although Matri did not take the field on either occasion, out injured. When Matri returned, Balotelli was off to Barcelona for a trial. It didn’t work out and once back at Lumezzane, Mario resumed in the youth sector.

Gazzetta dello Sport suggested on Sunday Matri and Stephan El Shaarawy will contest for the starting position alongside Super Mario in a 4-3-1-2 formation. This was pre-Kaka. On Monday the pink paper opted for a Balotelli-Kaka frontline, with Riccardo Montolivo behind. That could also be the role the Brazilian takes. Allegri has a week to figure that out.

Allegri was steadfast in his desire to land Matri, whom he believes can aid Milan in the upcoming months of the season. Conte’s words after the sale were also telling. But the fans must now be convinced he is worth the price-tag and the fuss in gunning for his capture compared to a defensive reinforcement.

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Have your say...
@Mustaafaaa you dont seem like a smart person everytime i see your posts on this website ,i think niang shouldn't be at milan ,he is not milan quality and also matri is a good player but having pazzini and matri at this club is unnecessary in my opinion.
Also kaka and il faraone would take milan to the top with de jong montolivo and honda (or someone better)we can do well in europe ,still dont get why we didnt try eriksen or thiago or even verratti in midfield.
on the 13th September, 2013 at 5:47pm
@mustafagag

You're such a sad person. Everyone likes ses except for you. The guy is 21 and single handed carried Milan first part of the season. The team you ao kindly calls serie b team. At the age of 20. That's incredible impressive. Only a fool doesn't realize that. I'm starting to think its personal. Mustafa - el shaarway hmmm

Try read a book for once? Nuff said kiddo
on the 9th September, 2013 at 6:21pm
SES is only the flop he's always been. He managed to score for a team that was performing like a Serie B side and now he's done. Media exaggerated him.

Enough said.
on the 8th September, 2013 at 11:42pm
@Maldini's Heir
Both you and Viktor bring up valid points. But considering SES's role as a support striker i doubt anyone would confuse him with a 30+ goals a season forward. Truthfully in his role SES should target between 12 and 20 goals a season, 20 would be pushing it but not impossible. My issue with this partnership is that SES has become more of an attacking midfielder than a support striker, moving a good 10-15 meters away from the penalty box. Helping the defense, and a lot of times playing like a winger than a forward. Obviously helping the rest of the team is important but not his role to cover and if he continues like this he will be lucky to get 10 goals this season. Problem is with anything less than 15 goals SES will lose his starting spot to Matri or Pazzini.
On a side note, Milan spend 12Mil on a player that they could have gotten on loan until Pazzini recovers which i think says a lot about what Allegri thinks of the SES, Balo partnership.
on the 8th September, 2013 at 1:47pm
@ Dan Giambrone looks like I was wrong. Sapanora is fit again and scored yesterday in the friendly. Why was he left out of the Champions League squad??? This is worrying.
on the 8th September, 2013 at 12:14pm
@maldinis heir

I'm with you 100% bout ses and opening space for balo. And I agree with you that I have high hope around kaka/ses/balo. To me that's the perfect mix of creativity, pace and strength. If kaka will deliver (yes he's 31 so what, so was pirlo when he left) we're golden. Ses just need a little selfesteem boost which I think kaka can help him with. If we only had two better center defense then I think we'd have a solid team. Imagine if we had thiago still.
on the 6th September, 2013 at 11:08pm
I am delightful kaka returns home but Matri also returns its tuff who to play.Our defence is alright but one player Bonera is useless he should be sold imeadiatly .mid is fine and strike is fine.
on the 6th September, 2013 at 8:52pm
For me the purple patch at the beginning of last season is not going to be representative of the rest of his career. Balo is the 30 goal a season man and SES is 10-15 goals a season man in my view. Also his defensive work down the left is so impressive and his all round energy really adds to the side. Personally I think Kaka, SES and Balo could be a cracking attack.
on the 6th September, 2013 at 5:31pm
@ Dino Al I really don't think there is an issue with SES and Balo playing together. They just need to be given time to gel. SES's form dipped when Balo came in that he obviously stopped scoring goals but I don't think he actually played badly. I don't personally see SES as a goalscorer and the media shouldn't put pressure on him to score goals. That's Balo's job. SES' job is to create space, open up defences with his speed and create goals and chip in with 10-15 goals per season.
on the 6th September, 2013 at 5:28pm
@anonymous

I've supported Ac Milan from 89-90 never ever miss a game and keep up with Milan news every second hour. Saying I will stop watching Milan if allegri stops using ses was clearly about sarcastic but I'm NOT happy bout the thought he might stop using ses as a starter.
Curva Sud til I die.
on the 6th September, 2013 at 3:26pm
Personally i think Matri is a good signing for Milan and I'm almost 100% convinced that Matri & Balo or Pazzini & Balo are better partnerships than SES & Balo. While i do rate SES i feel Balo is the main reason why his form isn't as it used to be. With Kaka's arrival i don't envision anything else but a trident with Kaka behind either partnership. As for Allegri, i can't blame him for Milan's transfer strategy, after all this isn't the EPL where coaches have an input on the transfer dealings. Lastly both Juve and Milan are committing the cardinal sin of great clubs, they sell young players for cheap only to buy them back in their late 20s, early 30s. for double the sum.
on the 6th September, 2013 at 1:42pm
Matri is a good forward who can help AC Milan score a few more goals throughout the season. Indeed, the club has too many strikers at Allegri's disposal. There will be discontent players and I begin to think that El Sharaawy will leave for a big money offer alongside Pazzini in the winter. If unsuccessful, Kaka will leave next summer for sure. Noone will put up with him if he does not fullfill his potential this season.

As a Bulgarian, I predict Italy - Bulgaria 1:1 tonight.
on the 6th September, 2013 at 10:45am
It looks like we have got rid of Traore! What a worthwhile signing. Now I've had a chance to calm down and think about the squad and in fairness to Allegri he's gone for 2 in every position as follows:

4 GKs (Gabriel is injured)
Zaccardo/Zapata Mexes/Silvestre
De Sciglio/Abate Constant/Emanuelson
De Jong/Cristante
Nocerino/Poli Monty/Muntari
Kaka/Saponara
Balo/Matri/Pazzo SES/Robinho/Niang
on the 6th September, 2013 at 10:11am
"I'm going to stop watching Milan until Allegri leaves". This is not the talk of a true fan. You should support your team no matter what happens. I'm a Juve fan and was embarrassed by the empty stadiums while we were in serie b and doing badly in Serie A. Now we are winning again everyone wants to be a fan.
on the 6th September, 2013 at 2:57am
Juventus started last season with 5 forwards (Vucinic, Giovinco, Quagliarella, Matri and Bendtner) and won the title with plenty to spare. This season we have swapped Matri and Bendtner for Tevez and Llorente, which clearly makes our attack stronger. I thank Matri for his contribution to both Scudetto wins, but given the choice between him and Quagliarella, I am delighted Fabio remains. He is better suited to the 3-5-2 system and I'm sure he will score double figures again this season.
on the 5th September, 2013 at 10:43pm
@joseph

Ses is absolutely not trusted by allegri and won't be starting"?? What makes you say that lol. I think it's highly likely he will use kaka and then balo and ses. This comes from a person who watched Ac Milan since baresi era.
on the 5th September, 2013 at 5:07pm
Dom, Milan did indeed use a trident under Ancelotti: Kaka behind Sheva & Crespo/Inzaghi. There is no reason why Kaka, Balotelli, & SES cannot play as a front 3. Kaka didn't play much at Madrid because of injury & rotation; but when he did, he performed well-his goal/assists stats were very good. Fitness permitting,he should do well.

Sam, I agree with you, CP's side is built more for containment & I'd wager that it ends up looking more like a 451, with Gila being isolated up front.
on the 5th September, 2013 at 3:45pm
I can't believe some of you were actually sad to see Antonini go.. He never really impressed and I don't think he's Milan quality. Bonera should definitely not be there either. He's terrible. I won't be sad when Allegri leaves but I'm amazed that he's being considered for the Italy job!
on the 5th September, 2013 at 3:37pm
Matri will prove to be a good signing for Milan. ES92 is obviously not trusted by Alegri and will not be a starter on a regular basis.
on the 5th September, 2013 at 12:52pm
Would of loved to see saponara play and like everyone says why didn't they buy a centre back is beyond me
on the 5th September, 2013 at 11:56am
@ Milanista good shout on Paloschi. Was he not the ideal stop gap for Pazzini? We'll re-sign him when he's 30 for 12m! If we had held onto Astori and Matri as youth players we wouldn't even be having this conversation!
on the 5th September, 2013 at 11:38am
@ DCP I am not for a second suggesting Allegri is better than Conte. I really hope Conte takes the Italy job next year to give someone else a chance to win the league! But we do have to acknowledge what Allegri has done overall. And for that he has my support for now. By the end of last season I was calling for him to be sacked but I've had the summer to calm down and reflect. I am not sure how long that will last!
on the 5th September, 2013 at 11:35am
To Maldini's Heir, how could you possibly say that you will back Allegri (for now) only because he has collected more points in the last 3 seasons than other managers (including Conte)? To make a comparison over 3 years with Conte, who has only directed Juve for 2 season IMHO is provincial way of thinking. If you support your manager is only because you believe in his ability to lead or align your to team to victory. I think in Milan the problem is the President... To Chris Le Galle, well said!
on the 5th September, 2013 at 10:29am
Now Milan have 7 strikers including Kaka .. How will allegri use 7 players in his stupid formation ? And allegri is not brave enough to play with Kaka as a terquartista in big matches so basically he will be playing monte and 2 strikers, with lazy muntari in midfield. Also, in 4 3 3 kaka is not favourite as hes old now and lacks of pace and defence . I think allegri and galliani have made wrong decisions with the signings of matri and kaka together and keeping on robinho.
on the 5th September, 2013 at 10:14am
this stinks to high heavens. Fester cries poverty that we cant afford Honda and wont pay 5 mil for him while pays 11 for this lump. All the while Ogbanna goes for 13 mil. The management keeps bitching about high wages and sign an overage, slow and injury prone Kaka back and pay him 4 mil a year. We now have 7 forwards. Thin in the middle and really thin at the back where we should be solid. If we don't make the cl I hope both Max and Fester get the boot.
on the 5th September, 2013 at 4:06am
Would much prefer El Shaarawy and Niang used alongside Balo than Matri.
Why the same money wasn't used to buy a strong central defender like Astori is beyond me...
on the 5th September, 2013 at 1:34am
Its 2 giant steps backwards and an even bigger step in to the dark ages of buying old players failed players.
Kaka was a milan great- WAS- is the key word. We need to kve forward not backwards. We need future not a 31 year old!
As for matri what a waste of money! Hes as useless as gilardino and pazzini. Loan petagna to bring in matri- disgracful.
Belusconi has ruined milan, greed and stupidity. And to top it off we are waiting for Honda!! What an end, we are doomed!!!
on the 4th September, 2013 at 9:03pm
I think the Matri situation is a little worrying for El Sharaawy as well. I don't want to see him sidelined in this squad. He should be given the chance to improve. The arrival of Kaka does make me daydream about the selection possibilities though. Would a midfield of De Jong, Montolivo, Poli, and Kaka (behind the strikers) work? I can't help but wonder. Milan haven't seen that much creativity on the pitch for a long time.
on the 4th September, 2013 at 8:00pm
And yes, we absolutely could have done with a defender instead, especially Ogbonna, who would have been yet another Italian national in the squad (we had €11m for Matri, but not €5m for Ogbonna). I like Allegri, but I find it bewildering that he should say we have some of the best defenders, seeing as we conceded relatively few goals last season. If we had one of the best goals conceded records last year, it was because of Abbiati, not Zapata or Mexes – or indeed Bonera.
on the 4th September, 2013 at 7:56pm
I too am glad with the Kaka swoop, but for some reason I assumed he would play a trequartista role behind the strikers, rather than taking up one of the forward places. As for Matri, I like him, but I do think it's unnecessary as a temporary measure for Pazzini, who I think proved himself well enough last season. Exactly how long is he supposed to be out with injury? No one seems to want to say! We would have been fine making do in attack until Pazzini's return.
on the 4th September, 2013 at 7:53pm

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