Inside the Sale of Milan Striker Luiz Adriano To China

After just six months with Milan, it appears that Brazilian striker Luiz Adriano will swap Italian football in Serie A for Chinese football in the Chinese Super League. Is selling the 28-year old former Shaktar Donetsk attacker the correct move for the rossoneri?

Luiz Adriano made the summer switch from Shakhtar Donetsk for 8 million euros, a fee that seemed to be peanuts at the time in comparison to what several media outlets were claiming the Rossoneri were to spend with the hopeful arrival of Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol. Despite failing in their attempts to haul in the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Geoffrey Kondogbia, Milan still brought in 90 million euros worth of talent in Alessio Romagnoli, Carlos Bacca and Andrea Bertolacci.

This current Milan has quite a few fresh faces, in the squad and on the bench. A new manager in Siniša Mihajlović and a plethora of new blood. Luiz Adriano was considered to be a consistent starter in Mihajlović’s flop 4-3-1-2 setup. However, with the emergence of M’Baye Niang, the return of 2014-15 top-scorer in Jeremy Menez and Mario Balotelli, it seems as if Luiz Adriano is deemed surplus to a crowded attacking unit.

In hopes (from the Milan supporters) of bolstering the squad in other areas this month, Luiz Adriano has become the odd man out. Since the first dozen or so rounds of Serie A play, the former Internacional striker has found it difficult to find quality minutes. Bacca and Niang are the top two striker options and have shown Mihajlović that they form the best possible duo to lead the attack.

Adriano has appeared in 20 total matches for the club, tallying 5 goals and two assists, but has seen a large dip in playing time. He is limited only to a striker role whereas the others are a little more versatile in where they can play. Naturally, it seems right to sell him while his value is still of significance to make an impact on a future buy.

Much like his transfer from Shakhtar this summer, his likely departure came together quick. According to Sky, the Rossoneri could get a return of €14-15m for the striker. In simple math, that’s a 6-7 million euro profit earned on a player that otherwise would sit the bench for most of the second half.

Whether it be Jiangsu Suning or Hebei Zhongji F.C in the Super League, it’s looking like Luiz Adriano will earn €8m (the same cost of his transfer fee) with his new club, via Pepe Di Stefano of Sky. So, while we await the parties to “cross the T’s and dot the I’s,” now is the time to ask: Is the sale of Luiz Adriano the correct move by Adriano Galliani?

There are many opinions to come as a result of this transaction. Many are disappointed because Luiz Adriano is a likable player and one who most would agree never got the chance to really prove his worth in Italy. He also scored some timely match-winning goals against Sassuolo and Empoli this season when it looked as if Milan were going to drop points. His workrate, energy and all out effort are well appreciated, but then there is the other side of this debate.

Many times, we’ve witnessed Milan fall victim to seller’s remorse. Yes, seller’s remorse. Examples include the supposedly large €60m bid from Real Madrid back in 2010 for Alexandre Pato that the red and black rejected, after the ex-Milan ace netted twice at the Bernabeu in a 3-2 Champions League victory. Or when Galliani admitted publicly that Milan rejected a €40m fee from Anzhi Makhachkala for Stephan El Shaarawy who was one of Europe’s hottest commodities at the time.

Yes, those are two examples-rare ones at that- but at the same time, it doesn’t take much for a player’s value to diminish. When you actually dissect the entire move-from a business standpoint to a club move-selling Luiz Adriano makes sense. You nearly double your profit on a player who is not a key component for the future and can take the money to build in other areas. But wait, naturally it’s fair to question the motives of the board. They often look lackadaisical when it comes to the mercato. Will they even spend this money to address glaring weaknesses within the squad? What type of difference maker can Milan purchase with €6-7m in profit? Two fair and valid questions to raise. Well, let’s tackle them.

This past summer, while Milan didn’t exactly spend on the level of usual transfer giants Manchester United, Real Madrid and Manchester City, they did show a willingness to invest (Bacca (€30m), Romagnoli (€25m) and Bertolacci (€20m). Also, they did cut their wage bill and downsized the squad by finally letting the likes of Sulley Muntari and Daniele Bonera walk without an extension. Whether you trust them or not, Galliani and Silvio do seem a bit more motivated to act. And yes, I still have my doubts about them for obvious reasons.

As for reinforcing the club from the sale, the €14-15m gives Milan the flexibility to perhaps finally add a potent midfielder. (We broke down some of the options Milan could target this month. Read here >>> When it comes to the profit earned, it’s worth noting that once Milan sold youngster Bryan Cristante (now at Palermo) to Benfica for €6m, they flipped it into a Deadline Day swoop for Inter target, ex-Atalanta playmaker Giacomo Bonaventura for €7m, via transfermarkt. In most cases, anyone worth labeling a difference maker is typically valued high on the market. However, there is great value to be had in Europe and South America. Milan just needs to increase their efforts in the scouting department to find them.

The deal for Luiz Adriano has not yet been made official and their are still details to be ironed out, but it looks all but certain that he will be departing for China. Will Milan turn this sale into a quality transfer for the midfield? Or will Milan fans once again fall victim to false hope and optimism?




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