Liverpool FC: Christmas Crack Me Up Challenge
The modern history of Serie A will likely be classified in two ways – ‘before Cristiano Ronaldo’ and ‘after Cristiano Ronaldo.’ Indeed, the arrival of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner in Italy this summer was a watershed moment for the sport in the country. More eyes will be on Serie A this season than at any other time since the 1990s.
And yet, many seem resigned to Juventus claiming another Scudetto, their eighth in succession. The Bianconeri now have the best player on the planet to add to their already strong squad, a squad that already the best in Italy by quite some distance. But Ronaldo’s arrival in Turin has prompted others to pull up their socks. The two Milan clubs, for instance, have done all they can to keep up.
The saga involving Luka Modric has dominated the Italian football agenda over the past week or so, with Inter Milan keen on luring the Croatian from Real Madrid to Italy just as Juventus did with Ronaldo. This comes not long after they targeted Arturo Vidal, with Radja Nainggolan, Stefan de Vrij and Sime Vrsaljko all signed this summer. On top of this, key players Ivan Perisic, Mauro Icardi and Milan Skriniar look set to say amid interest from the Premier League.
Then there’s AC Milan, who have gone from being banned from European competition by UEFA, to being bought by new owners and making waves in the transfer market in the space of just a few weeks this summer. Leonardo Bonucci might have returned to Juventus, but the Rossoneri got the better end of the deal, with Mattia Caldara and Gonzalo Higuain heading in the other direction.
Leonardo is also back at AC Milan in a behind the scenes role, with club legend Paolo Maldini also returning to the San Siro as their director of strategic development. Sergey Milinkovic-Savic and Tiemoue Bakayoko have been linked with a move to AC Milan, hinting at the renewed ambition at the club. It’s even been suggested that Antonio Conte could arrive as their new manager before the start of the season.
For too long, the two Milan clubs, two of the most storied clubs in the European game, have cut a sorry shadow of their former selves. Their resurgence would, generally, be healthy for Italian football as a whole, raising the prospect of a genuine title race at the top of Serie A. It would at least prevent this season being another procession for Juventus.
There is still a long way to go before AC Milan and Inter Milan can claim to be back to their old selves. Even with the improvements made this summer, they are a work-in-progress, whereas Juventus look more like the finished article. But for the first time in a long while, there is a collective air of positivity on both sides of the San Siro.