Alessio Cerci loan signing a perfect start to 2015 for AC Milan
According to both Alessio Cerci and Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi, the forward's transfer to the San Siro has been in the making for "three years," and both parties have been waiting for an opportunity to make it a reality. After passing his medical and signing an 18-month loan deal from Atletico Madrid, the Italian international can now finally call himself a Rossonero.
The 27-year-old Cerci claimed that throughout the transfer process dating back to his departure from Torino last summer, he had always wanted to move to Milan. However, sceptics will argue that had Inter been capable of offering a significant proposal to that of Atletico Madrid, then the former would arguably have been saying the same things about the Nerazzurri. Nevertheless, upon signing he insisted that he will "give everything I've got for the club," which is good to hear.
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Essentially he is an upgrade on Fernando Torres, who will now hope to rekindle his best form back home. While the Spaniard's move to San Siro was shrouded with doubt and criticism, the acquisition of Cerci is a much more positive move from the Milan hierarchy. Even though it is on loan, the mere capture of the Italian international is an indication of the direction in which the club wants to go, and it promises to deliver results on the pitch, too.
Coach Pippo Inzaghi claimed that his attack is now "complete" with Cerci's arrival, and he undoubtedly has both flexibility and pace across his attacking trio.
While Torres is a gap to fill, for the more immediate future Cerci will likely fill in for Japan's Keisuke Honda during his absence for the Asian Cup. The former Torino star is no stranger to playing on the right side of an attacking three, and that will in turn allow Stephan El Shaarawy and Jeremy Menez to play in their preferred roles.
The most intriguing aspect of Inzaghi's new-look frontline is that there are likely to be no points of reference for opposing defences; the three attackers have the ability to interchange and roam freely in order to create space.
Naturally, it will take time for them to gel and build chemistry, but it is an exciting new feature of Milan's play as they abandon the idea of an out-and-out striker for the most part, but hold on to that option with Giampaolo Pazzini ready to come off the bench.
Yet the pressure is already on for all concerned as Berlusconi announced that he believes Milan have the chance to impose themselves as the best team in Italy in 2015. The Milan president wants his side to dominate games, dominate possession and score a "ton of goals."
Cerci's arrival will certainly add another dimension to the attacking threat that Milan pose, but he has big boots to fill after it was announced that he would wear the No. 22 shirt. While that decision received a slight backlash given the connection with Kaka, a positive start to life at his new club will silence any disruption.
Despite initial doubts, Cerci will likely make his debut against Sassuolo on Tuesday off the bench, and the hope is that he can live up to expectations. After recording double figures in goals and assists for Torino last season, Cerci must now deliver on the big stage for a club harbouring hopes of getting back to on top both at home and abroad.
Sumeet Paul covers AC Milan for ESPN FC. Twitter: @SP_Calcio.