So, if the rumour mill is to believed, Arsene Wenger is headed to Italy to manage Milan.
Everyone knew Wenger would be back in management soon. Sure, he had left Arsenal after being the boss there longer than Kylian Mbappé has been alive, but he’s always been vocal about how much he loves football and the day-to-day coaching of a side.
So when he said “certainly at the beginning of 2019, “in response to a question of when he would be back in management, no one was really surprised. Of course, Wenger was tight-lipped on exactly where he’d end up, saying “I don’t know where I will be. I will be somewhere but I don’t know where.”
But we now believe this destination will be the red and black half of the world’s fashion capital. Milan are a storied club steeped in great history; only Real Madrid have won the Champions League more times than them. Milan would be a fitting venue for a historic coach like Wenger to return to coaching, but who would be the winners and losers of such a move? We had a look!
Winner: Aaron Ramsey
When Arsenal announced they were withdrawing Aaron Ramsey’s contract offer, basically signalling that the Welshman would leave for free in the summer when his current deal ran out, things didn’t look good for Ramsey.
After all, he had been at Arsenal for a decade and had a certain stature with the club. Starting from scratch at 27 when you’ve spent basically all of your footballing career in one place can be a daunting proposition.
But if Wenger joins Milan, suddenly Ramsey has not only a legendary destination to go to, but a destination where the coach is the same man who has been his boss since he was a teenager.
Wenger and Ramsey get on, and a frugal cut-price deal or free transfer next summer would be right up Milan’s savvy alley. Wages could be a stumbling block, but given the chance to work with Wenger again at one of the world’s most storied clubs, we’re sure Ramsey would make sacrifices and leap at the chance.
Loser: Giacomo Bonaventura
Of course, if Ramsey joins that means someone has to miss out. And in this case that would Giacomo Bonaventura. The midfielder (who inexplicably wears Milan’s legendary no. 5 shirt) is a player similar in profile to Ramsey.
The Italian is a rough-and-tumble box-to-box midfielder who loves to shoot (sound familiar?) and he has a combative attitude. He’s a decent goalscorer and has been used to good effect by the current coaching regime, but if Wenger were to join he would surely get Ramsey, which would leave Bonaventura no place in the starting line-up.
Winner: Cesc Fabregas
Cesc Fabregas was Arsene Wenger’s last great icon. Sure, Robin van Persie was Arsenal’s last great player, but the Dutchman played his final season for Arsenal in a mishmash of a squad that was lifted only by his brilliance.
Fabregas, on the other hand, was lured from Barcelona with the promise of first-team football and then at just 17 years of age, he was given it. Cesc became the centre of Wenger’s last genuinely good team, eventually becoming so influential that Thierry Henry left for Barcelona and the Arsenal side, if anything, improved.
Of course, Cesc eventually departed for Barcelona himself, leaving Wenger to cut a disinterested figure until his retirement, basically. The hunger he had when Fabregas was around never returned, and the Catalan himself went on to win major titles with first Barcelona and now Chelsea.
Only now he’s on the outs at Stamford Bridge, not playing all that much under Maurizio Sarri. Arsenal fans are delighted that Wenger may manage Milan, but can you imagine their joy if Wenger rescues Fabregas from Chelsea?
And Fabregas himself would be absolutely perfect for Milan. The midfielder is still a passing genius, he merely lacks the athleticism to compete at the highest level. Well, Milan isn’t the highest level, but it is a historic club and moreover they have a whole host of rugged midfielders able to offer the athleticism Cesc cannot (Lucas Biglia and Tiemoue Bakayoko, to name just two). With one or both of them alongside him, Cesc could have a career renaissance in Italy.
Loser: Lazio and Roma
This season in Serie A it’s clear that the top three spots are going to belong to Juventus, Napoli and Inter. The former two are simply the best sides in Italy, and Inter have made great strides forward under Luciano Spalletti.
That leaves just one Champions League spot remaining: 4th. Lazio and Roma will be gunning for that last spot, but we all know how Wenger feels about fourth place, right? It’ll be a calamity for the capital clubs as Wenger will see the Rossoneri steal that final spot and finally return to Europe’s primary competition.
Winner: Ivan Gazidis
Earlier this year, Ivan Gazidis oversaw the appointment of Unai Emery at Arsenal before leaving the Emirates Stadium to take up a role as Chief Executive for Milan. He began his job officially one week ago, so the fact that the Wenger rumours are now starting to circulate is probably not a coincidence.
Gazidis and Wenger worked together for many years and securing a manager of such colossal stature for a club as fallen by the wayside as Milan would be an impressive coup indeed. Were he to add the likes of Ramsey and Fabregas as well then the Johannesburg-born executive would be off to a flying start during his tenure in Milan.
Loser: Gennaro Gattuso
It’s all well and good talking about signing Arsene Wenger and making jokes about fourth place, but here’s what people may forget: Milan are already in fourth place! Gennaro Gattuso is very slowly making improvements to Milan; and, alright, their current position owes much to two consecutive stoppage-time winners from Alessio Romagnoli. But the fact that Gattuso even has Milan scoring those kinds of winners, of showing that kind of strong mentality, is a sign of progress.
It’d be a shame for him if all his work was torn down because Wenger was available; he’d be out of a job despite doing really well (his contract was extended back in April).
And to make matters worse, Milan is his dream club. He was a legend there as a player and would love to do well as a coach. Moreover, the only team he’s otherwise he’s spoken about managing is Rangers, and they already have a legendary midfielder in their managerial dugout, so it’s not like he could go there either!