International AC Milan and Italian Inter: Have the Milanese clubs swapped their historic transfer strategies?

Over the past few seasons, there seems to have been a shift in transfer strategy from both AC Milan and Inter that could shape the 2023/24 campaign.


After breaking away from AC Milan in 1908 to allow foreigners to join their club, Inter had always had something of a cosmopolitan feel with the likes of Ronaldo, Javier Zanetti and Lothar Matthaus starring during the nineties.

In comparison, the Rossoneri fielded their famous all-Italian defence featuring Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini.

However, as the 2023/24 Serie A season edges ever closer, the transfer activity of both the Nerazzurri and Milan suggests a change to those historic strategies, with the bitter Derby della Madonnina rivals seemingly heading in opposite directions.

How has AC Milan become more international?

Samuele Chukwueze in action for AC Milan. [@acmilan]

Even after that early success of the Silvio Berlusconi era, Milan continued with a policy of signing many of Italy’s leading internationals, with Alessandro Nesta, Filippo Inzaghi and Gennaro Gattuso joining legendary captain Maldini for the latter stages of his career, and they even prised Andrea Pirlo away from their Stadio San Siro housemates.

However, against Salernitana last season, the Rossoneri fielded their first starting XI without a single Italian player. This is something that Inter had achieved back in October 2008 against AS Roma, when their raft of international stars were taking them to domestic dominance under Roberto Mancini and Champions League success with a fully foreign lineup and a Portuguese coach in Jose Mourinho.

The arrival of owners RedBird Capital has been reported by as influential in the change of approach, with the now famous Moneyball algorithm key to their strategy which makes no allowances for the nationality of potential targets, and no doubt contributed to the departure of Maldini this summer.

Noah Okafor on the wing for AC Milan. [@acmilan]

Italian youngster Sandro Tonali was seen as little more than an asset to fund a squad rebuild and was sold at a significant profit to Premier League side Newcastle United, and in came Christian Pulisic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and other foreign arrivals like Tijjani Reijnders.

This left captain Davide Calabria as the standout Italian in the squad, ignoring the few fringe players who have arrived or largely watched on from the sidelines last season.

Why are Inter now shopping local?

Like many things in life, price plays an important role in the things we choose to spend our money on and the premiums for Italian players would often push clubs into the foreign market, and that appeared the case at Inter for many years.

In addition, players would often welcome approaches from abroad, as they could receive better salaries because of the difference in taxation legislation.

At the Nerazzurri, there is also the influence of current CEO Beppe Marotta, who helped build the all-conquering Juventus side that featured Gianluigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, and had the foresight to take an ageing Pirlo to Turin.

Davide Frattesi upon signing for Inter. (@Inter_en)

The 66-year-old holds a firm belief that this approach can instil a strong bond between the players and nurture a winning culture and mentality together.

Shortly after arriving at Inter in late-2018, Marotta helped to bring in current vice-captain Nicolo Barella and added to the midfield with Davide Frattesi from Sassuolo this summer.

With Federico Dimarco and Alessandro Bastoni in defence, they are just missing a goalkeeper and striker for an all-Italian spine to improve upon the five Italian outfielders used in the recent Champions League final loss to Manchester City.


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