Football Features

14 players you (probably) forgot played for AC Milan

By Muhammad Butt

AC Milan: 14 players you (probably) forgot played for the Serie A giants

Published: 17:25, 1 December 2020

AC Milan are one of football’s greatest ever clubs.

They have won the European Cup more times than anyone bar Real Madrid (7), they revolutionised the game back in the late 80s and have graced us with some of the finest players and teams to ever compete. Everyone knows them and unless you’re an Interisti, you have at least a passing appreciation of the Rossoneri and all their great players.

But what about their not-so-great players? To be clear, we don’t mean the lesser-talented Milan players, but great players who were so bland during their time at the San Siro that you had forgotten about it entirely? We’ve compiled a list of 14 famous names that you have probably forgotten once played for AC Milan.

1. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Milan era: 2007-2011
Milan appearances: 0

We start our list of 14 with Arsenal’s No.14, or No.41 as he was for Milan. The Italians signed Aubameyang when he was still a teenager and brought him through their Primavera side. Auba never even played a game for the Rossoneri as he spent the next three-and-a-half seasons out on loan at various clubs before being sold to Saint-Étienne midway through 2010/11, but he was on their books and they had high hopes for him. Hopes that in the end were proven correct, as he shone for Saint-Étienne, Borussia Dortmund and, of course, Arsenal.

2. Sokratis

Milan era: 2010-2012
Milan appearances: 7

We continue the Arsenal connection and move to Aubameyang’s team-mate at both Dortmund and in north London. Sokratis spent one season in Serie A and was part of Milan’s never-ending search to find an heir to Alessandro Nesta. Sokratis played just a handful of times in red and black but had the good fortune of doing so in the Rossoneri’s last title-winning season.

3. Leonardo Bonucci

Milan era: 2017-2018
Milan appearances: 51

You’d probably forgotten all about this, right? Leonardo Bonucci was the pillar of a Juventus team that was conquering all before them in Serie A, but the defender had fallen out with his coach and needed a change of scenery. Milan came calling and Bonucci was to be the leader of their new revolution. Yet the Rossoneri were such miserable drips that season that even Bonucci didn’t defend well. In the end, he spent just one season in Milan before running back to the comfort of Juventus and their annual title wins.

4. Fabricio Coloccini

Milan era: 1999-2004
Milan appearances: 5

Fabricio Coloccini was viewed as the next great Argentine defender and Milan used a loophole in the rules to sign him without agreeing a deal with Boca Juniors. He was just 17 at the time and so spent the next half-decade out on loan before finally playing one season for Milan in the ill-fated 2004/05 campaign, where Milan were great but won nothing. He only played five times, and since became so associated with Deportivo de la Coruna and Newcastle United that you’d be forgiven for forgetting his time as a Milan player.

5. Martin Laursen

Milan era: 2001-2004
Milan appearances: 82

Before he was the pillar of Aston Villa’s defence, Martin Laursen played for Milan. He did so during the start of the Carlo Ancelotti era and managed to pick up a Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League while at the club. But he was never a starter and in the end, Laursen moved to the Midlands. There, he became such a colossal and iconic figure that his time in Milan has been forgotten.

6. Lucas Ocampos

Milan era: 2016-17
Milan appearances: 12

Nobody was that excited when Sevilla signed Lucas Ocampos in 2019 but they should’ve been, because in the 2019/20 season he was the only player in La Liga to both score a goal and save one.

He also went on to be the fulcrum of the Sevilla side which secured yet another Europa League title last season. There was little to suggest this 17-goal campaign was on the cards for Ocampos across his loan spell with Milan in 2016/17. The Argentinian winger didn’t score once, Milan finished sixth and returned him to Marseille the next summer.

His reputation has been on the up ever since, culminating in a place in Marca’s latest La Liga team of the season. So Ocampos’ time in at the San Siro has faded from memory.

7. Mathieu Flamini

Milan era: 2008-2013
Milan appearances: 123

They say “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” and Milan kind of took this lesson to heart after Flamini swallowed Kaka up in the 2008 Champions League, enabling a huge Arsenal win there. That very summer, Flamini signed for the Rossoneri, where he played for an astonishing five seasons and racked up over 100 appearances. Yet no one remembers his time there. Probably because he left to come right back to Arsenal and reaffirm his connection to them. And now he’s a pharmaceutical executive helping to bring about the mass-engineering of biofuels.

What a guy.

8. Michael Essien

Milan era: 2013-2014
Milan appearances: 22

If you had to associate mighty Michael Essien with three teams, you’d pick Chelsea, Lyon and Ghana. If pressed for a fourth you’d come up with that weird season on loan with Real Madrid and a fifth you’d either come up short or go all Ligue 1-nerd on everyone and mention Bastia. What you wouldn’t do is mention the two seasons he spent playing for Milan. Well, “playing,” really, as he racked up just 22 appearances in a spell people don’t even remember happening.

9. Sulley Muntari

Milan era: 2012-2015
Milan appearances: 83

Similarly to his compatriot, Muntari has had iconic spells at other clubs. Udinese, Inter, Portsmouth. And of course, he excelled with Ghana too, especially at the 2010 World Cup. But if pressed, would you remember his three-year spell with Milan? He joined them a season after playing for Sunderland and despite impressing on loan enough for them to buy him, was so underwhelming in the subsequent two years that he left with little fanfare to Ittihad FC in Saudi Arabia.

10. Gianluca Zambrotta

Milan era: 2008-2012
Milan appearances: 102

Zambrotta was Philipp Lahm before Philipp Lahm was Philipp Lahm. A right-back who made his name at left-back for a gargantuan club. In his case, it was Juventus. Zambrotta was phenomenal for the Old Lady, and probably would have stayed there his whole career but for the Calciopoli scandal relegating Juve. After that, Zambrotta joined Barcelona, where he was intensely underwhelming. And for most, that’s where his story ends. But no! Zambrotta left Barcelona for Milan and played there for four seasons. Unfortunately for him, most of them were underwhelming and injury ruined the one great season where the Rossoneri won Serie A. In the end, he was let go by Milan in 2012 and played out his career with Swiss side Chiasso.

11. Yoann Gourcuff

Milan era: 2006-2008
Milan appearances: 54

Yoann Gourcuff was one of the hottest prospects in Europe when he joined Milan in 2006. This kid was going to be the heir to Clarence Seedorf and the midfield maestro to help take Milan to the next level. Turns out he ended up playing second-fiddle to Kaka, whose monster season dwarfed everything else. He didn’t do much better in his second season and was shipped off to Bordeaux, where he immediately refound his form and played superbly. Injuries and poor form then basically swallowed up the rest of his career, but when he is remembered, it is in those early days for Rennes or his renaissance at Bordeaux. No one remembers his misery in Milan.

12. Gerard Deulofeu

Milan era: 2017
Milan appearances: 18

Deulofeu was a Barcelona flop who then found new success playing for Everton. He joined Milan on loan from Everton after new manager Ronald Koeman didn’t want him, and much to everyone’s surprise was brilliant in red and black. So much so that Barcelona executed their buy-back clause on him. Unfortunately, that was simply the cycle starting over again, as he was poor for the Blaugrana before redeeming himself with Watford in the Premier League. After the Hornets were relegated, he returned to Italy with Udinese. So there are the four clubs you associate him with, and none of them are Milan.

13. Fernando Torres

Milan era: 2014
Milan appearances: 10

Like Deulofeu, Torres only spent half a season in Milan. Unlike Deulofeu, however, it was a pretty dismal affair. El Niño was fresh off a spell at Chelsea where he played terribly yet somehow won three trophies in two seasons and perhaps Milan were hoping he could work that mojo on them. No such luck, and his loan was terminated midway through the season so he could return home to Atlético Madrid and banish all the memories of those miserable months in Milan.

14. Jens Lehmann

Milan era: 1998
Milan appearances: 6

After establishing himself at Schalke, Lehmann earned a shot at the big time with Milan way back in 1998. Unfortunately for him, he was so bad (including handling a backpass as well as conceding a penalty) that he was dropped after just five games. He then moved to Dortmund, where he rehabilitated himself and then to Arsenal, the club with whom he is most associated and where he had his greatest success. No one remembers those awful games for Milan, which is just for the best, really.

Honourable mentions:

Asmir Begovic, Alessio Cerci, Bojan Krkic, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Phillip Senderos, Christian Vieri, Fernando Redondo, Taribo West