Defence remains Milan's Achilles' heel

Posted by Sumeet Paul

OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty ImagesMilan's defensive pairing of Cristian Zapata and Philippe Mexes hope to be able to celebrate a Scudetto title for the Rossoneri.

Over the past week, both Cristian Zapata and Kevin Constant have talked up Milan's chances of winning a league title this coming season. While their optimism is both necessary and welcome, it is their area of the pitch which will arguably be the Rossoneri's biggest failing.

Based on the summer transfer market thus far, Massimiliano Allegri will boast a variation of options both in attack and in midfield. Some individuals are certainties in the starting line-up, while the likes of Riccardo Saponara and Andrea Poli have added quality as well as depth to the squad.

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Nevertheless, it is widely recognised that the club have not addressed the requirement of improving the heart of the defence, where Zapata and Philippe Mexes will have the task of trying to provide the solid foundation for a successful team.

In their defence, the pair have proven that they are of a sufficient quality to hold their own in Serie A. Mexes in particular has even contributed timely goals, while Zapata's pace and awareness helps cover up the cracks left by the Frenchman.

However, are they of a sufficient quality and reliable enough for Allegri to win another Scudetto and/or challenge the top teams in Europe? The answer, perhaps, is no. Both individuals are prone to a lapse in concentration, while there are still doubts over their ability to handle the most talented of strikers.

At this stage of the transfer window, with the necessity to sell before Milan can buy, as well as the emphasis being placed on signing Keisuke Honda, it would appear the Rossoneri will begin the season as they are.

On a positive note, both the full-back positions are filled for the foreseeable future, as Ignazio Abate appears to have escaped rumours of a potential sale while Mattia De Sciglio will continue to develop and improve on the left flank.

While Allegri is similarly blessed with options in those two roles, the lack of depth which would ultimately support Mexes and Zapata is worrying. Much can be said of Daniele Bonera's ability, or lack of, in his advancing years, while Cristian Zaccardo perhaps represents another option switching to the middle.

Meanwhile, nineteen-year-old Jherson Vergara has been tipped for a bright future and impressed at the U20 World Cup. However, given his age and lack of experience at this level, his consistency will be a worry if he is to receive notable playing time.

Speculation had suggested reinforcements would arrive, yet Juventus moved to snap up Angelo Ogbonna last week to add to their collection of Italian international defenders, but reports maintain there is still interest in the likes of Davide Astori and Andrea Ranocchia.

Ideally, Milan's business this summer would have been completed before pre-season training, thus enabling the new signings as much time as possible to integrate ahead of the Champions League qualifiers.

What was possibly regarded as Milan's strongest area two years ago with Thiago Silva and Alessandro Nesta at the helm, it could well be their downfall in the upcoming campaign.

Will Milan regret it if they decide not to invest in a defender? Who should be at the top of their list?

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty


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