Charting the progress of Milan's three-year plan

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Serie AAssociatedAC Milan chief Silvio Berlusconi is rebuilding the club.

A few months on from Silvio Berlusconi's claim that Milan would return to being a "major force" in Italy and Europe, the Rossoneri have started the three-year plan on the right track. However, what constitutes progress in the next three campaigns?

Currently, the objective has and will continue to be clear, with qualification for the Champions League of paramount importance. Considering Berlusconi made his prediction prior to Milan's ascent up the table, it appears the first stage of the plan is working out as intended.

However, much will depend on how they perform in the next three weeks as to whether the first year is deemed a success. While the development of youngsters remains a key component of the plan for the long-term, it is imperative that they continue to deliver in the more immediate future.

The Rossoneri took a maximum 12 points from March, keeping four clean sheets in the process. A repeat performance in April with games against Fiorentina, Napoli and Juventus ahead would be most welcome.

Provided they do retain their reservation at Europe's top table next season, what should the ambitions then be? Ideally, from a personal standpoint, domestic success is a priority before taking on Europe's finest.

Being able to maintain a level of success over an entire season to give credence to a claim of being the best in the country, is a feat that can prove the players are capable of being genuine champions on the pitch.

If the second-half of this season is anything to go by - providing Milan add reinforcements in the summer - the Rossoneri could embark on an intense title rivalry with Juventus for years to come.

However, a combination of history and prestige sees Milan place a great deal of importance on performing in the Champions League. Yet the idea of conquering Europe so soon in the development of this group of players may be more optimism than realism.

As shown in the defeat to Barcelona, the current squad, with the addition of further prospects for the future, still have much to learn. Having ambitions of lifting the Champions League in the foreseeable future is a little extreme, initial domestic success is more achievable.

Moving forward though, it is clear that Berlusconi's three-year plan ends with another triumph in Europe. It is difficult to assume how far the likes of Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy will have come by that stage, similarly with how the club intends to bolster the squad with the financial forecast looking increasingly promising.

Milan director Barbara Berlusconi told an Italian magazine on Thursday that the club are almost in a position to no longer rely on its holding company, Finivest, to level out losses of almost €70 million a year.

By cost-cutting and making improvements on a commercial level, the club is becoming more self-sustainable and that can only produce a promising picture for the future.

There is also the possibility that Milan's extravagant owner was referring to off-the-field matters in his prophecy. By sorting the financial mess and constructing a team capable of challenging in three years could also be deemed a success. A combination of all the above would most definitely have Milan back amongst the best.

What would you deem as success over the next stages of the three-year plan? What should Milan target, and are the financial aspects just as important?

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