Milan: Serie A Season Preview 2013-14

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Boris Streubel/Getty ImagesSerie A experts are predicting Massimiliano Allegri's Milan to finish third.

After a three-month absence, Serie A returns this weekend as Milan kick things off on Saturday evening against Hellas Verona. While the transfer window remains open beyond the ninety-plus minutes at the Bentegodi, just how well equipped are the Rossoneri this year?

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The decision was made in the aftermath of last season to keep faith in Massimiliano Allegri, with Stephan El Shaarawy's future similarly being resolved despite speculation of significant financial proposals from England.

Milan's league rivals continued to strengthen in the meantime, while the Rossoneri maintained that their new transfer strategy of developing youngsters would be the best way forward.

Nevertheless, supporters and critics alike continued to bemoan the lack of investment in defence, while Adriano Galliani was continuously scuppered in his attempts to bring in new signings with Keisuke Honda and Adem Ljajic among those who still remain a priority.

While neither have yet to make the switch to San Siro, we arrive at what can only be described as "Year One", after the Milan hierarchy dubbed last season as "Year Zero" given the departure of countless icons.

The message this summer is that the current squad is more of a team and will undoubtedly benefit from having spent the last year together. With a few new signings coupled with promotion to the first-team for some of Milan's next starlets, it promises to be another intriguing season which will hopefully result in success.

The inability to offload individuals who are surplus to requirements perhaps remains the biggest criticism, as it has in turn prevented Galliani from bringing in new faces as the club emphasise the need to reduce numbers in order to create a manageable squad.

For all the criticism of the defence, Milan still had the third best defensive record in Serie A last season, which is testament to the tactical system that ensures all areas of the starting line-up work collectively. The addition of Matias Silvestre provides cover for Allegri as well as the opportunity for the Argentine to prove his spell at Inter was a mere anomaly.

The return to full fitness of Nigel de Jong will unquestionably provide Allegri with a boost, while the trio of Bryan Cristante, Andrea Poli and Riccardo Saponara add depth as well as excitement to an otherwise solid midfield which will be led by captain Riccardo Montolivo.

While the league as a whole has been praised for the standard of strikers brought to Italy this summer, it is easy to forget that this will be Mario Balotelli's first full season with the club.

Much is expected of the 23-year-old this year, as he is more than capable of guiding Milan to success while simultaneously establishing himself as one of the best players in the world. Combined with El Shaarawy, who appeared to have found some chemistry with his compatriot during the clash with PSV, they represent a dangerous attacking threat that can fire Milan to glory.

La Gazzetta dello Sport have adjudged Milan as being the third best team in Italy with a rating of 7.5 out of 10. While Juventus remain the team to beat, the Rossoneri are perhaps the most settled squad compared to their rivals who have either undergone managerial changes or significant squad adjustments.

As a result, it promises to be yet another competitive year in Italy, with Milan's chances of success left in the hands of a relatively familiar group of players who will be expected to continue to develop and mature into a league-winning side.

Where do you see Milan finishing this season? Considering the squad as it stands, what rating would you give it out of 10?

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

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