AC Milan wrapped up the Serie A title after a tense title battle with perennial Italian champions Juventus. And things were about to get much more exciting for the Milanese.
The summer of 2022 began with a takeover saga, which began just days after we lifted the Serie A trophy and may be fuelled by current chairman Paul Singer looking to retire at the end of the season. Chinese investor Zhang Wei was eyeing up a £733 million takeover, along with a £188 million transfer kitty should his bid prove successful.
A few days later the takeover went through, and the new chairman boosted our transfer budget to a massive £209 million! Alrighty then! And we added to that £72 million in sales, including Ceballos, Saelemaekers, Alphonso Davies all leaving the club, while Calvert-Lewin went on loan to Atletico.
Despite the cash injection our first signing was a free transfer. However, I think it’s a pretty good one as we snapped up Ilaix Moriba when he was bizarrely set for release by Barcelona.
We put in a cheeky £80 million bid for Haaland, but he chose fellow moneybags PSG (despite us offering him more money), who also signed Cristiano Ronaldo on a free.
But the money soon flowed as we broke the club’s transfer record twice in the same day. First, we brought in midfielder Florentino Luís from Benfica for £50 million. Then we completed the £54 million signing of Marco Asensio, who impressed on loan last season, from Real Madrid – which surpassed the £40 million paid for Rui Costa way back in 2001.
We then snapped up a few wonderkids in Brazilian winger Talles Magno for £14 million, German striker / right-winger Karim Adeyemi for £35 million, and centre-back Andrea Papetti for £13.5 million.
In total, we spent £169 million to strengthen the squad and give it a more youthful look, with only four players aged over 26 and none over 30. And this is how we’re lining up the first 11:
Title defence begins
Four of the new boys came in for their debuts on the opening day as we entertained last year’s third-placed finishers Atalanta. A quiet game saw Franck Kessié do the only thing of note with a screamer on the verge of half-time as Atalanta only mustered three shots. We, however, has 20 and nine on target but only had two highlights. The Zebres and Inter both lost on the opening day.
We then went behind to Empoli’s first shot but bounced back with Luis and Adeyemi getting their first Milan goals. We then walked all over Parma 5-0 with five different scorers and right-back Davide Calabria scoring and getting two assists to remain 100%. While Inter lost 4-0 at Crotone, and have lost all of their first three!
Adeyemi continued his fine start by scoring an unbelievable goal inside 6 minutes at Fiorentina then doubled his tally a few minutes before the break despite picking up a knock. And we made it four out of four with a 2-0 win. And we took it to five as we dominated Benevento with 38 shots to three and won 4-0 with two trademark Kessié screamers, Eric Garcia’s first for the club and a late Andrea Belotti penalty.
The incredible start continued as we raced into a 4-0 half-time lead at Genoa despite only having eight shots. Regen wonderkid Henrique Pinho, who’s making ridiculous progression in training, came off the bench to score on his debut and wrap up a 5-0 away win with a 1.37 xG! But the winning start ended with a 0-0 draw at home to Lazio.
We then faced Juventus and Inter in consecutive weekends. We began those games brilliantly as Belotti put us ahead then Moriba sealed a 2-0 win late on at Juve. Then a quiet first-half against Inter was blown away by quick-fire goals from Kessié and Belotti in the first five minutes after the break. Then Adeyemi wrapped it up in the fourth minute of injury-time. A ridiculous 4-0 hammering of Inter with 19 shots to 7!
That only kept us top on goal difference, as Sassuolo matched our eight wins and one draw, but we went to Napoli and won 2-0 to move two points clear at the top.
Fellow high-flyers Sassuolo were up next and took the lead on 42 minutes through Domenico Berardi but Sandro Tonali immediately equalised. We kicked on after the break and Belotti scored on 65 minutes to give us a lead to defend, which we did! That took us to 30 home games unbeaten and an 11-game unbeaten start to the new season, and continued with a 4-0 win at Crotone led by a brilliant Belotti brace.
Our unbeaten start was threatened at Udinese, who twice led but Moriba and Tonali traded screamers to earn a 3-2 win. The latter won October player of the month and is in sensational form. And that took us into the mid-season break for the World Cup seven points clear of Sassuolo, with 13 wins and one draw. A sensational start!
Champions League group
We got a decent draw for the Champions League, alongside RB Salzburg, Dinamo Zagreb and Man United. Moriba’s first goal for Milan got us going early in the opener at home to Salzburg then Kessié sealed a 2-1 win.
Then we smashed Dinamo 3-0 at home, lost at home to United but Lorenzo Colombo’s first goal of the season edged a 1-0 win at Salzburg to confirm qualification. And we beat Dinamo with a rotated 11 to qualify in second, behind United who won every game.
Join us next time as we continue our title defence in the second half of Serie A, and discover who won the Winter World Cup!