Football Features

AC Milan summer transfer window: New players, outgoings & potential XI for 2023/24

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 13:59, 29 July 2023

AC Milan were unable to successfully defend their Scudetto crown last season as Napoli pummeled the competition, subsequently ending a 33-year championship drought.

Stefano Pioli’s side still managed to finish fourth, albeit 20 points behind Luciano Spalletti’s all-conquering machine. Cementing a spot in the forthcoming Champions League season as they did was their essential goal, especially after Milan made their first semi-final appearance since their successful 2006/07 campaign.

However, it’s not all been sunshine and roses. Celebrated icon Paolo Maldini was sacked as Milan’s technical director this summer. His departure was heavily criticised among the fanbase and things got even worse days later when new midfield hero (a boyhood Rossoneri fan) Sandro Tonali was sold to Newcastle United.

Tonali’s £55m exit made him the most expensive Italian footballer in history. It also guarantees a new-look Milan midfield.

“It’s a big loss from a technical perspective and he must be replaced properly,” Pioli commented. “[But] it was a good opportunity for both parties and him. It was difficult to do something different.”

There’s also no Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as the enigmatic Swede finally called time on an illustrious playing career.

“I’m sorry he retired, we’ll miss him a lot,” last season’s top scorer Olivier Giroud said.


Recent successes at home (they won Serie A in 2021/22) and in Europe suggest Milan are once again a major player. And regardless of the controversy surrounding Tonali’s sale, Milan continue to be active this summer. Luka Romero and Marco Sportiello, both at opposite ends of their career, joined as free agents. On the flip side, no fewer than six players have arrived with a fee attached.

Samuel Chukwueze

  • Position: Winger
  • From: Villarreal
  • Transfer fee: £24m

Samuel Chukwueze is only 24 but has over 200 career appearances with Villarreal already. The Nigeria forward just completed his most prolific season with the Yellow Submarine, with 13 goals in 50 appearances and five assists in the league, winning La Liga’s African MVP award.

But Milan are signing him because he is an elite-level dribbler. Only Vincius Junior and Osasuna’s Abde Ezzalzouli, on loan from Barcelona, averaged more completed take-ons per 90 minutes than Chukwueze (3.4) in La Liga last season — excluding players with fewer than 1,000 minutes.

“He has significant skills and a good shot,” Gernot Rohr, Chukwueze’s former coach at international level, told Gazzetta dello Sport, “but his most important quality is undoubtedly one-on-one ability.

“He always manages to get past opponents, creates numerical superiority, and consistently takes on defenders. Perhaps he does it too much, but he will certainly entertain the fans.”

Christian Pulisic

  • Position: Winger
  • From: Chelsea
  • Transfer fee: £17m

Despite some fleetingly exciting moments, it just never worked out for Christian Pulisic at Chelsea, where the American forward was unable to push on from the promise Borussia Dortmund enjoyed. He leaves Stamford Bridge having made 145 appearances in all competitions, during which he scored 26 goals and created 21 more. The native of Hershey, Pennsylvania was never a guaranteed starter for the English powerhouse. He’ll hope a change of scenery not only does him good but rekindles the form which first attracted super clubs across Europe.

“I haven’t gotten the opportunities I’ve wanted in recent years and haven’t reached the level that I want to be at, and this is a great opportunity for me to do that,’ he said during his Milan unveiling.

“Of course there are definitely times where I wish I could’ve gotten more of an opportunity and been that guy, but yeah, for whatever reason, that’s not the case, and like I said, I’m just so excited for this new challenge and I’m definitely ready and up for it.”

Tijjani Reijnders

  • Position: Midfielder
  • From: AZ
  • Transfer fee: £17m

A late bloomer if ever there was one. Tijjani Reijnders joins Milan on the back of a breakthrough season with AZ, where he needed to bide his time. Strong competition ahead of him meant Reijnders was once nothing more than a bit-part player. But once those rival teammates started leaving, the Dutchman grabbed his opportunity and never looked back.

Even more impressive is how far Reijnders’ game came in such a short period. The 24-year-also stood out in the Cheesehead‘s run to a Conference League semi-final, which supposedly caught Xavi’s attention.

“Xavi called me to discuss a possible move to Barcelona. It was impossible for me – no way as I already decided to join AC Milan,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I had spoken with [Geoffrey] Moncada and [Stefano] Pioli… and at that point, I had already decided, even with my family. I had already decided that I would play for Milan.”

Joining Milan nonetheless represents a step-up from what Reijnders has been accustomed to, and only time will tell if this was a leap too far.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

  • Position: Midfielder
  • From: Chelsea
  • Transfer fee: £15m

At one point Ruben Loftus-Cheek was earmarked to be Chelsea’s next shining light from their academy to first-team. Injuries coupled with a different manager every other year curtailed those dreams. Brief loan spells at fellow London clubs Fulham and Crystal Palace reminded folks of Loftus-Cheek’s potential in midfield — thus earning him numerous senior England international caps — but it was never going to be realised at his boyhood team.

“I love the club and the fans but I wasn’t feeling content with the amount I was playing and the positions I was playing in,” he said. “I felt I had more to give but I wasn’t getting the opportunity. I feel good physically and am playing some really good football. It was a good time to move on.”

Noah Okafor

  • Position: Forward
  • From: Red Bull Salzburg
  • Transfer fee: £12m

It’s fair to say Red Bull Salzburg are good at developing forwards. Erling Haaland, Sadio Mane and Karim Adeyemi all spring to mind. Milan is banking on Noah Okafor following in their footsteps.

Their confidence would be well-founded. The 23-year-old Swiss forward bagged 25 goals and 15 assists in 72 league appearances for the Austrian side. Not exactly monster numbers but Okafor is a quick and skillful capable of playing across the front line. He has also enjoyed hot streaks in his short career, going on a six-game scoring run last season including matches against Chelsea and Milan in the Champions League. The latter demonstrated a deadly ability to beat opponents as Okafor nutmegged new teammate Pierre Kalulu before also slotting home through goalkeeper Mike Maignan’s legs.

There’s clear room for growth and when the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City have looked at him before, you can tell Milan are onto something.

Lorenzo Colombo

  • Position: Forward
  • From: Lecce
  • Transfer fee: £3m

Technically a signing, if not in spirit. Lorenzo Colombo spent last season on loan with Serie A relegation-battlers Lecce, who activated their option to sign the 21-year-old forward for £1.7m. However, Milan had a counter-option, re-signing Colombo for £3m days later.

It is unclear whether he will leave on loan again or act as understudy to Giroud this term.

Luka Romero

  • Position: Attacking midfielder/winger
  • From: Lazio
  • Transfer fee: Free

Romero, 18, left Lazio on a free transfer after making six Serie A appearances in 22/23. He scored a sublime goal from outside the box in a pre-season friendly against Real Madrid and has publicly stated that he wants to stay at Milan this season rather than go out on loan.

In 2020, he became the youngest player in La Liga history, debuting for Mallorca aged 15 years and 219 days. He has been referred to as a ‘mini Messi’ due to his Argentine heritage, left-footedness and the fact he was represented by Horacio Gaggioli, Messi’s first agent.

One more bit of trivia: he was discovered by Mallorca thanks to a Argentine reality TV show called ‘Campions‘, where former players Ivan Campo and Gustavo Siviero trawled Spain’s Balearic Islands, each aiming to put together a boys team. The culmination of the series was a match between the two teams, the winners getting to meet the likes of Iker Casillas, Andrés Iniesta, Sergio Ramos and Gerard Piqué while watching a Spanish men’s national team training session firsthand.

Romero, 10 years old at the time, played in Campo’s team but an invitation to trial at Mallorca was arranged by Siviero.

Marco Sportiello

  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • From: Atalanta
  • Transfer fee: Free

Sportiello, 31, leaves Atalanta after 24 years and various loan moves to become a back-up goalkeeper at Milan alongside the 40-year-old Antonio Mirante, who signed a one-year contract extension.

Milan 2023 summer transfer window outgoings:

Sandro Tonali
Matteo Gabbia
Marco Nasti
Daniel Maldini
Marco Brescianini
Brahim Díaz
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Newcastle United
Real Madrid
End of loan


How Milan could line up in 2023/24

Throughout his stint as Milan’s head coach, he’s predominantly utilised a 4-2-3-1 formation and there’s no suggestion the Italian tactician will deviate — although 4-3-3 is easily attainable with the same personnel.

Another point worth noting is the makeup of Milan’s starting lineup at the end of 2023/24 could very well be different from the one which starts next season. Of the four players signed for a fee, three are expected to be immediately part of Milan’s XI with Noah Okafor performing as Giroud’s understudy. Reijnders and Loftus-Cheek should forge the Rossoneri’s new-look midfield with Pulisic in a deep-lying forward role.

The continually impressive Rafael Leao, who penned a new deal this summer, occupies Milan’s left flank with inbound forward Samuel Chukwueze on the other. Yunus Musah, another target, is an option to rotate with Reijnders if he does eventually join. Okafor can also fill in for Leao, whom he revealed having spoken to beforehand.

“I’ve known him for quite a long,” Okafor told reporters. “The first time we met was in Switzerland vs. Portugal, then with Milan [against RB Salzburg].

“We started texting, changed jerseys, remained in contact, and sometimes he Facetimed. He’s a good guy, always positive. He always tells me Milan is a great club, where we train with fast players and dribblers, I can’t wait to get on the pitch with him. Not off the pitch like before. He said that with my quality and speed in the one vs. one, Italy is a good next step and I feel confident and good to try Milan.”

Luka Romero can do the same for Chukwueze while Charles De Ketelaere, constantly linked with a move away, should begin the forthcoming campaign as Pulisic’s backup. The same goes for Pierre Kalulu at right-back where skipper Davide Calabria is Milan’s first choice.