The 7 Worst Players to Feature for Milan Since the ‘Banter Era’ Began

The 7 Worst Players to Feature for Milan Since the 'Banter Era' Began
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​Milan, over the last decade or so, have cultivated a not-so-proud tradition of signing low-grade, incompetent players for far too much money.

It doesn’t matter who the owner is, who the sporting director is, or who the manager is, I Rossoneri always find a way to splurge what little money they have on dross.

It’s the defining feature of their ‘banter era’ (2013-present), a period fraught with on-the-pitch mediocrity and off-the-pitch instability. A period in which they’ve hired and fired nine different managers, finished as low as tenth in the league and failed to qualify even once for the Champions League.

With this in mind, here are seven of the worst players to have played for Milan since the ‘banter era’ begun. Keep in mind that this list isn’t based solely on ability (otherwise there’d be seven Rodney Strassers), but also a failure to meet expectations during their spell at the club, regardless of how high those expectations were. 

7. Nikola Kalinić

Nikola Kalinic

Having just splurged €38m on André Silva (who could’ve easily made this list), some questions were raised as to whether ​​Milan actually needed Nikola Kalinić when they signed him from Fiorentina in 2017. Still, he was coming off the back of two successful seasons in Florence and was seen by Milan fans as a pretty solid option up front. Oh, how wrong they were. 

Instead of being the striker Milan could rely on to score goals as Silva adapted to Serie A, Kalinić was more of a liability. So poor he was in front of goal that there was a genuine sense that I Rossoneri were a man down whenever he was on the pitch.

The Croatian scored just six goals in 41 appearances before a rare miscalculation of judgement from Diego Simeone bought him to ​Atlético Madrid. The Argentinian came to his senses a year later and offloaded him on loan to Roma, where he’s been warming the bench ever since.

6. Leonel Vangioni

Leonel Vangioni

A common trend that has emerged over the last few years is that Milan sign a player, typically on a free transfer, and then don’t play him. A classic case is Leonel Vangioni, who, prior to joining Milan as a 29-year-old in 2016, had spent the entirety of his career in Argentina.

Vangioni found himself on the bench for much of his spell in Italy and didn’t make his debut until January 2017, six months after he first joined. He became something of a regular fixture after his debut but never really looked like he was good enough for Milan.

He moved to Mexican side Monterrey in the summer of 2017 and was instantly forgotten. Until the writing of this article, of course.

5. Alessio Cerci

Alessio Cerci

After a torrid six months at Atlético Madrid (another rare case of misjudgement from Diego Simeone), Alessio Cerci moved on loan to Milan. He had been one of ​Serie A‘s best players the season before and it was hoped he would rediscover his form and propel Milan up the table. 

Instead, Cerci came to Milan a shadow of the player he was at Torino, proving completely useless on the wing. I Rossoneri sent him packing with six months to go on his loan deal, joining mid-table side Genoa.

His career took a sad trajectory following the end of his spell at Milan and he now plies his trade at Serie B club Salernitana, where he can’t even get a game.

​4. Cristian Zaccardo

Cristian Zaccardo

Cristian Zaccardo, a World Cup winner and a solid mid-table defender for the likes of Palermo and Parma, joined Milan in the twilight of his career with expected results, making just 17 appearances across two-and-a-half years.

Unremarkable, yes. Unforgettable, no. Unfortunately for Zaccardo, the defining moment of his Milan career was refusing a move to Parma as part of a swap deal for Jonathan Biabany in 2014. Biabany was hot stuff at the time, and Zaccardo’s refusal to move meant the transfer was called off.

He eventually left Milan when his contract expired in 2015, joining newly-promoted Carpi, and ended his relatively successful career with spells in Malta and San Marino.

3. Fernando Torres

Ferndando Torres

Something of a cult hero at ​Chelsea despite massively underwhelming following his £50m transfer from ​Liverpool in 2011, Torres was moved on to Milan on a two-year loan deal in 2014. At 30, it represented his final chance to revive his career and rediscover his prolific goalscoring form.

Instead, it demonstrated something we all already knew but didn’t want to admit. We were never going to see the old Torres again. His spell at Milan was utterly forgettable, scoring just once – a header against lowly Empoli – in ten games.

Milan made the loan deal permanent in 2015, but sent him back to the club where he made his name, Atlético Madrid, where he enjoyed moderate success before ending his career in Japan.

2. Alessandro Matri

Alessandro Matri

Name a Serie A club and Alessandro Matri has played there. ​Juventus? Of course. Cagliari? Who can forget? Fiorentina? Didn’t see that one coming, but okay. Lazio? What? There’s no way that actually happened. And yes, there’s far, far, more where that came from.

Matri joined Milan, the club where he spent his youth, following a successful, trophy-laden spell at Juve. Expectations were high and, given that he features on this list, he did not meet them.

He scored just once – a consolation goal against Parma – in 18 appearances. He subsequently went on loan to a variety of clubs before settling with Sassuolo (another Serie A club), and then moving on to Brescia (yet another Serie A club).  At 35, Matri is currently without a club and his future looks to be below the Italian top flight.

1. Alen Halilović

Alen Halilovic

Another transfer which, reflecting back on it, still makes as much sense as it did when it happened.

Alen Halilović‘s tale is one all too familiar in the modern game. Bought by ​Barcelona after signs of promise in his native Croatia with Dinamo Zagreb, Halilović was considered to be one of the most exciting young players in the world. He never made the grade at Barcelona, however, and moved to Hamburg after a loan spell with Sporting Gijon.

Things didn’t work out at Hamburg either and, after a mediocre spell with Las Palmas, he joined Milan on a free transfer. It was a silly move to say the least; Halilović has yet to make a single league appearance for I Rossoneri, with all three of his appearances coming in the Europa League. Still contracted to Milan, the Croatian is currently on loan at Dutch side Heerenveen. 

It is this transfer that demonstrates just how poor Milan’s recruitment is. If the intention was to unlock his unfulfilled potential, why not give him a chance in Serie A? Any transfer is either a statement or a piece of the puzzle, and if you don’t back a player you’ve just signed, it just makes you look incompetent.

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