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Sumeet Paul blog profile  By Sumeet Paul

Signs of progress for Pippo's Milan

Jeremy Menez and Stephan El Shaarawy both scored and impressed during AC Milan's latest round of preseason friendlies, with the club seeking to move on from Mario Balotelli.

With a frantic search for new players taking place off the pitch, Milan secured a confidence-boosting triumph on it Saturday night with two victories in the Trofeo TIM to win their first trophy of the season. While it will most likely be the last this year, it was undoubtedly important for the players in winning back the supporters.

Having defeated both Juventus and Sassuolo in a 45-minute match apiece, Pippo Inzaghi revealed that he was pleased with the attitude shown from the players and insists that their desire and style will bring the fans back to San Siro in the new season.

While Keisuke Honda impressed, there were goals for both Jeremy Menez and Stephan El Shaarawy, with the latter showing exactly why many Rossoneri supporters have identified him as the team's genuine "champion."

With Mario Balotelli bound for Liverpool, the club is expected to reinvest his fee to strengthen the squad. However, as Adriano Galliani scrambles around making enquiries, Inzaghi continues to make steady progress with the players at his disposal.

As mentioned in a previous post, this season is undoubtedly El Shaarawy's year to shine, particularly under the guidance of Inzaghi. Although his fitness will dictate how influential he can be, the Italian international will now have to respond to the additional responsibility on his shoulders.

Mario Balotelli is heading to Liverpool and Milan will have to work quickly to find a replacement in the final days of the transfer window.

Nevertheless, given the doubts surrounding whether or not he was ever compatible with Balotelli, El Shaarawy will arguably enjoy a bigger degree of freedom on the pitch in the coming season. In addition, it could be argued that consideration must be given to which new signing will complement him best as he could well emerge as the focal point of the team.

However, Milan looked much improved as a unit, and with the new campaign around the corner, it was vital to boost morale with a strong performance and positive result. That is exactly what Inzaghi achieved, but he was rightfully cautious and was keen to control expectations.

It is clear that Milan still require reinforcements to remain competitive over the course of a gruelling season, particularly in terms of a player capable of scoring goals. With La Gazzetta dello Sport suggesting that the club have drawn up a six-man shortlist, it is guaranteed that new arrivals are on their way. It is disappointing that Galliani and the club in general did not have a plan prior to allowing Balotelli to leave, which in turn has resulted in a sense of panic. Despite history suggesting that they have an ability to secure late deals, it would have been more beneficial for Milan to complete their business early on to help Inzaghi settle.

However, with a week remaining until the new Serie A season begins, it is particularly unnerving that there were no deals in place to cover the loss of Balotelli. Milan can be criticised for a lack of planning over the past few years, and it doesn't appear as though they are learning from their mistakes.

If the right moves are made, the situation can still be rescued. However, with clubs seemingly not keen on parting company with Milan's preferred targets at this time, Inzaghi will have to focus on getting the best out of his current group.


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