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Why AC Milan’s Vincenzo Montella will be the most under pressure manager next season

The Boot Room

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Vincenzo Montella
Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Zinedine Zidane, Unai Emery and Antonio Conte. What do these managers have in common?
They are among the elite managers who will be under enormous pressure next season for a number of reasons. Nonetheless, there is one man not yet in their category who will be on the hottest seat of them all next season: Vincenzo Montella, the manager of AC Milan, will head into his second season in charge with lots of eyes on him.
AC Milan have had the most eye-catching transfer window so far and there is still over a month to go. The Rossoneri capped of what has been a very decisive summer so far with the best signing of all the big teams.
Their capture of Leonardo Bonnuci brings arguably the world’s best defender to the San Siro and weakens a major title rival, Juventus, in the process. That is not a move many expected from a team that has finished in 10th, 7th and 6th in the last three Serie A seasons. Another big win for the Italian giants came with the extension of  Gianluigi Donnarumma’s contract.
One major reason Montella will be under pressure is the presence of new ownership.
Milan’s former owner, Silvio Berlusconi, and a group spearheaded by Chinese businessman, Li Yonghong, finalized the long-awaited change of ownership. The new owners and their executives have wasted little time in making their mark.
Milan’s CEO, Marco Fassone, and sporting director, Massimo Mirabelli, have adopted an approach that would make many a Football Manager aficionado proud as they have almost assembled a new squad in one window. Bonucci is one of 11 new signings by the club so far this summer.
All this means Montella has plenty of expectations to live up to in the new season.
Milan’s new owners may focus on a return to the Champions League in public. However, privately they will surely be expecting more. The board, the fans and the footballing public will want to see how Milan performs after a summer of significant change. Montella did well with what he had last season, winning the Italian Supercup and leading the team back to Europe, but this is an entirely different challenge.
The former Fiorentina boss will have to integrate his new signings, almost all of whom will play a key role, while ensuring the continued progression of youngsters like Davide Calabria and Manuel Locatelli. The experience of winning silverware last season will help while Bonucci’s leadership and experience will be vital.
Montella will also be tasked with ensuring that arguably the best team he has had in his career plays stylish, winning football in homage to Milan’s history. Whether or not the expectations will be fair is another matter.
The most even-keeled fans will be satisfied with a strong run at silverware in all competitions and a return to the Champions League. Still, it is not unthinkable that this mixture of talent could do better if Montella makes the right decisions.
Juventus will still be favorites as they continue to add talent and retain the league’s best tactician in Massimiliano Allegri. The Old Lady may be preoccupied with Europe this season, though, considering their recent heartbreak on the continent.
The jury is out on the other two major contenders. Napoli played some scintillating football yet fell short in key moments while the boost in productivity from Edin Dzeko could only do so much for Roma. Both sides will feel some measure of confidence after Bonucci’s departure but they have previously failed to capitalize on any moments of weakness from Juventus.
The fact that these teams have the easier Champions League schedule to contend with does work against Milan but the growing list of additions should provide Montella with the depth to compete. There is the possibility of more to come, as well, with the transfer window over a month away from closing.
According to Italian outlet La Repubblica, as referenced by reputable Spanish publications AS and Marca, Atletico Madrid may look at the possibility of loaning Diego Costa to Milan for the first half of the season should they sign him from Chelsea this summer.
With Carlos Bacca likely to leave, as reported by ESPN, the Rossoneri still need a quality striker to lead their resurgence next season. Such a move would heap even more pressure on Montella to get results.
Milan’s season officially begins with a Europa League qualifying tie on July 27. That will give Montella more time to get any kinks out of his side and, hopefully, get the season off to a positive start. The positive performances for some of the new signings in the most recent friendly against Bayern will heighten expectations.
The question of when the two sleeping giants of Italian football, Milan and Inter, would rise again has been constant in the last few seasons. Milan’s actions this summer suggest that time may have come. Montella’s task will be to ensure that his side lives up to the hype created by this summer’s activity.

The Boot Room is a football analysis website, bringing original and creative content to the fans of the English Football League.

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Would making a move for Gigio Donnarumma be a risk worth taking for Liverpool?

Liverpool are reportedly keen on the 19-year-old goalkeeping sensation.

Liam Thomas

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Liverpool
"Photo: Getty Images"

There is no hiding the fact that Liverpool are on the hunt for a new goalkeeper this summer, after their current number one Loris Karius’s woeful Champions League final performance left the club questioning his ability to mix it with the best, and the Reds have been linked with a host of Europe’s elite goalkeeping talents since the transfer window opened.

According to Calciomercato, AC Milan’s teenage goalkeeping sensation Gigio Donnarumma has now been highlighted as a target by the Liverpool hierarchy and he could be allowed to join the Reds for a hefty £60million.

Liverpool’s pursuit of the 19-year-old has only been heightened this week after AC Milan were sanctioned by UEFA for breaching financial fair play regulations and banned from all European competitions next season.

This has seemingly given Jurgen Klopp the green light to go after the goalkeeper with the Italian giants looking to balance their books by offloading some of their top talents.

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But would placing faith in the talented teenager be a risk worth taking for Klopp’s side?

Well, the Italian international already has a vast amount of experience for his age and has taken over the mantle from goalkeeping great Gianluigi Buffon to be his countries number one.

The £60million price tag the Rossoneri have placed on Donnarumma’s head is somewhat of a steal in today’s market, with the youngster still in the early stages of his blossoming career.

Donnarumma could prove to be a special bit of business from Liverpool, and there is no doubt that the Reds need to drastically improve their goalkeeping options if they’re to have any chance of enjoying Premier League glory next season.

For Liverpool, it is a no-brainer; a fresh, talented and proven goalkeeping talent who could be moulded into something even greater by Klopp is a mouthwatering prospect.

If the Reds do pull off a deal for the 19-year-old, it could prove to be one of the savviest bits of business from any club in Europe this summer, and it is certainly a risk worth taking.

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Liverpool should rival Manchester United if Leonardo Bonnuci becomes available

The defender would be a serious coup for any Premier League side this summer.

Jamie Watts

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Manchester United are reportedly interested in signing AC Milan captain Leonardo Bonucci, according to Yahoo Sports but, if he is available, Liverpool should rival their bitter adversaries for his signature.

Jurgen Klopp is still searching for a reliable defender to partner record signing Virgil van Dijk in the centre of defence, with Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip failing to lay down a marker when gifted opportunities last term.

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And Bonucci would instantly inject the level of quality and experience the German coach is looking for. At 31, the Italian international is now at the peak of his abilities and is widely recognised as one of the finest defenders in world football and, alongside the Dutchman, the Reds would arguably boast the strongest defensive pairing in the Premier League.

Milan ideally would not want the ex-Juventus man to leave after just one season, but the report claims the club are facing an uncertain summer, as they might be expelled from European club competitions for breaching UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations.

Bonucci has not had his finest season since arriving at the San Siro, as his club finished sixth in Serie A. But his pedigree cannot be questioned.

His rare blend of technical quality in possession and defensive understanding would make him a sensational coup for Liverpool. And getting one over United would be the icing on the cake.

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Victory in Milan, but is this another false dawn for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger?

Arsenal were triumphant in Milan despite their recent miserable form.

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Getty Images

Arsenal ended their losing run of four matches with an excellent performance away to AC Milan in the Europa League. This competition has the potential to save the Gunners season and the commitment from every player suggested that they want to go all the way.

They were coming up against a team full of confidence under Gennaro Gattuso. Milan hadn’t lost a match since the end of December. The Serie A club hadn’t conceded a goal in six and had won five of those inside ninety minutes.

These sides came into this fixture in remarkably different form, but football is played on grass and not on paper.

Despite Milan having more attempts, it was Arsenal who created the better chances. They had a couple of half-chances early on before the opening goal.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has had a hot and cold start to life in a Gunners’ shirt, but he was one of the best players on the pitch in Italy. His goal was emphatically taken as he drove the ball past Gianluigi Donnarumma.

It is important to capitalise when you are on top, especially away from home in European competitions and Arsenal did just that. As the first-half progressed, they continued to create the better opportunities. Both Danny Welbeck and Mkhitaryan had good chances to double the visitors’ lead, but they were squandered.

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In stoppage-time of half-time, Arsenal scored a second to give them a commanding lead in the tie. It was a great move from the team and Mesut Ozil found Aaron Ramsey who coolly rounded Donnarumma before putting the ball into the net.

The first-half performance from Arsenal was one of the best that supporters have seen this season. They were better all over the pitch and showed the work rate that they had lacked in previous weeks. Milan pushed in the second half, but they couldn’t penetrate the Gunners’ defence.

Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi were both excellent. Arsene Wenger will be hoping that both are returning to their best after some uncharacteristic errors in previous matches. The centre-back pairing made eight ball recoveries and were always in the right position on Thursday.

Patrick Cutrone is a teenager with a big future, but the young striker had no luck out of the Arsenal defence and that will encourage the manager.

Another player to emerge with credit is Danny Welbeck. The ineligibility of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the injury of Alexandre Lacazette means that the Englishman started the game up front for Arsenal. It was a huge opportunity for him after being pushed down the pecking order at the club and he took it with both hands.

The Englishman worked tirelessly and caused problems with his movement.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Although his final product wasn’t great, he was a constant threat and led the defensive effort from the front. Welbeck will never be a leading Premier League striker, but he is effective in matches such as this one. He deserves more opportunities during the run-in.

It would be too soon to get carried away for Arsenal fans. There are still questions regarding Arsene Wenger and the work rate of the players, but this was an excellent performance that finally provides the club with positive momentum. They have had a miserable few weeks and the supporters can get excited about their team once again.

When the draw was made, a lot of supporters checked their expectations when it came to the Europa League. Milan were the overwhelming favourites, but Arsenal have taken a dominant position in the tie and should be able to finish the job in London.

If they can do that, they will move into the quarter-final stage. Although it will be difficult to win it, they will have as good a chance as any.

There have been many false dawns for Arsenal in recent years and this could be another one. That said, it takes enormous character to go away to a huge stadium like the San Siro after a poor run of form and win comfortably.

Considering the criticism that they have had for their lack of desire, few would have thought the Gunners to be capable of a result like this.

It is now up to Wenger to prove that he can get this level of effort and performance out of his players on a regular basis. The Frenchman remains in a difficult position with no margin for error. If he is going to keep his job, he needs to finish the season strongly and win the Europa League.

It won’t be an easy challenge, but this performance and result will give him hope that he can upset the odds to claim his first European trophy.

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