AC Milan are one of the most successful clubs in world football. They have won 18 Serie A titles which is the second most in Italian football. They have also won 18 officially recognized UEFA and FIFA trophies which is the second most for any club in the world (tied with Boca Juniors of Argentina). They have a rich history and have had some of the world’s greatest players wear the famous black and red shirt. This season, however, has been one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory. In a historically disappointing season, AC Milan have further sunk to new depths in the past week. The seven time champions of Europe went crashing out of the Champions League in the round of 16 after being defeated by Athletico Madrid over two legs. Being eliminated at the round of 16 would be disappointing for a club as prestigious as Milan, but loosing 4-1 in the second leg and 5-1 on aggregate has fans incensed. To make matters worse, Milan followed up their European exploits by conceding four more goals in a Serie A match on March 16th. They were defeated 4-2 in their own Stadium by Parma. The defeat leaves Milan, one of the giants of Italian football, in eleventh place with virtually no chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
Milan have already fired a manager this season. They may yet decide to fire current manager Clarence Seedorf. But a team with their level of expectations does not languish in eleventh place only due to bad management. There have been a host of disappointing players in the Milan squad. They have only won 9 of their 28 league games and have been defeated on 11 occasions. They have conceded 42 goals in those 28 games and only managed to score 41. There were no shortages of disappointing players, but this list has picked five individuals whose performances stood out for all the wrong reasons. Milan have struggled in every department and this article lists forwards, defenders and a midfielder.
5. Urby Emanuelson – Season Salary of 1.5 Million Euros
Urby Emanuelson has been deployed in a variety of positions for Milan this season. Despite his versatility and appearance in a variety of positions he has consistently underperformed. In 22 league games, Emanuelson has only provided 2 assists and he has failed to find the back of the net so far in Serie A. In January 2013, Milan loaned Emanuelson to English Premier League side Fulham where he was reunited with his former Ajax manager Martin Jol. He played in 14 matches for Fulham and only managed to score a solitary goal. As his performances have proved this season, Emanuelson’s creativity in front of goal has not improved after his loan spell. If anyone were to ask him to play a decent cross into the box, they would be horribly dissappointed. Emanuelson has been playing recently as a left-back as Milan have suffered consecutive humiliating defeats. Thankfully for Milan fans, Emanuelson’s contract ends after this season and it is highly unlikely he will return to the club. He was booed and whistled after relentlessly in his recent defeat to Parma.
4. Daniele Bonera – Season Salary of 2 Million Euro
The only positive that can be gleaned from the performances of Daniele Bonera this season is the fact that his contract is relatively short compared to others in the squad and its up in 2015. The 32 year old defender has contributed very little this season and given his age and his abject play, it is doubtful he can positively contribute anything in the near future. He has only appeared in 10 of Milan’s 28 league games so far this season. Milan’s defence has been so bad this season that former greats such as Alessandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini have openly shown their dismay at the state of the club. Bonera has not played enough to bear the full brunt of criticism. Milan supporters are probably hoping he never plays again this season, as his last two appearances have been disastrous. Bonera started in the 4-1 defeat to Athletico Madrid and his main contribution was committing 3 fouls and receiving a yellow card. He also played against Parma when Milan were defeated 4-2. Bonera started the game but Milan manager Clarence Seedorf substituted the struggling defender after 65 minutes.
3. Philippe Mexes – Season Salary of 4 Million Euros
Another aging defender finds himself on the list of most disappointing Milan players. Like Daniele Bonera, Philippe Mexes is on the wrong side of 30 and has been played sparingly. The 31 year old has only appeared in 14 league games so far this season. Mexes’ salary is surprising because when he arrived at Milan in 2011 he was ostensibly a back up central defender. Upon his arrival he was not able to dislodge the central defensive partnership of Alessandro Nesta and Thiago Silva. When Nesta and Silva left the club, Mexes found greater opportunities and started most of Milan’s 2012/2013 Serie A games. This season, Mexes has mostly returned to his initial position of the bench at Milan. He was present when Milan were beaten 4-2 by Parma in their last game. Like Bonera, Mexes’ contract runs until the end of the 2015 season. What separates the two defenders is their salaries. Mexes reportedly makes twice as much as his Italian counterpart but he has been equally, if not more, disappointing.
2. Mario Balotelli – Season Salary of 4.5 Million Euros
Most of the time Mario Balotelli is a lightning rod for criticism. Most supporters and teammates tolerate his mood swings because he is a very talented player capable of scoring a lot of goals. He has had short and drama filled stints at Manchester City and Inter Milan during his young career. He always attracted headlines at Manchester City, but he did help them win the Premier League in 2011/2012 and was one of their top scorers. He has not been very prolific for Milan this season. In 20 league games he has only managed to score 11 goals. More disappointing than his productivity in front of goal has been his attitude and commitment on the field. His performances against Athletico Madrid received wide spread criticism from the Italian press. Milan fans were not too enamored either, and were reportedly screaming at him to go back to rivals Inter Milan when the team returned from their away leg in Madrid. Italian national coach Cesare Prandelli has warned Balotelli that his spot in the World Cup squad is not assured if he does not improve his consistency. It is safe to assume that Milan and their supporters were expecting a little more from a player who cost over 20 million euros.
1. Robinho – Season Salary 4 Million Euros
As disappointing and frustrating as Balotelli has been in a Milan shirt, his performances have been head and shoulders above those of Robinho. The Brazilian has been a disappointment for several clubs during his career but his productivity with Milan is bordering on non-existent. In 20 league games this season Robinho has only managed to score 3 goals (he has 5 assists). Robinho has been criticized throughout his career for being lazy and losing focus during games. He is sometimes brilliant with the ball but mostly useless when his team losses possession. While Milan are surely disappointed with his performances, they have nobody to blame but themselves. Robinho has had largely disappointing stints at both Real Madrid and Manchester City. The majority of his career at those two clubs was spent on the bench instead of on the field. What led Milan to expect Robinho to turn into a consistently productive player is something that their supporters must wonder about? There are also rumors that they chose not to sign Carlos Tevez because they had Robinho. It’s stories like that which make Milan supporters lose their hair. Milan can only hope that Robinho performs well in this summer’s World Cup and they can manage to offload the inconsistent forward onto someone else.