Ever since the 2010s, Inter and AC Milan have been shadows of their former selves. After decades of European dominance, with both Milan clubs winning a combined 10 Champions Leagues, they have found themselves struggling near the bottom of the table in the last few seasons. Long gone are the days of Paolo Maldini, Ronaldo, Ruud Gullit et al. Where did it go wrong for Milan?
What Went Wrong for Fallen Serie A Giants Inter and AC Milan
It was only 10 years ago that Inter were celebrating their fifth consecutive Scudetto, with that brilliant treble-winning Jose Mourinho side. The year later, AC Milan got their revenge and won the title, with Inter being close seconds.
Ever since that season, neither club has achieved a first-place finish. That can be explained by the rise to power of Juventus. The Turin-based club has won an extraordinary eight straight titles, with potentially a ninth on the way.
It’s not only Milan that hasn’t been able to compete, it’s the whole of Italy. In football, money usually wins. It is definitely the case in this situation. Juventus are the richest club in Italy and the tenth richest in the world. They also use the same business model as Bayern Munich, another powerhouse in world football.
Their scouts focus on signing the best players in Serie A, not necessarily the world. In other words, they assure their dominance by weakening the rest of the league. Miralem Pjanic, Andrea Pirlo or Paolo Dybala are good examples in the last few years.
Whether or not the owners of AC Milan and Inter were willing to pump cash into the club as the Agnelli family has done, the reality is that they have severely fallen behind. That was a wrong move for Milan. Their squads have been inferior for a long time, and that has resulted in many years without qualifying for the Champions League.
It’s now been nine years since the last trophy for any of the Milan sides. In between, finals have been lost and seasons have been difficult. This makes it harder to attract world-class talents, who want to compete at the highest level.
A vicious circle happens: the best players don’t want to sign, so the club struggles, so the best players don’t want to sign, etc. This downward spiral lead to the 2014-15 season, where it went oh so wrong for Milan.
AC Milan finished tenth and Inter eighth; there was to be no European football for the both of them. This was an unimaginable scenario for two of Europe’s ex-elite. The San Siro derby had become an irrelevant game when it used to be potentially title-deciding in years prior.
Why There’s Still Hope
The tides might be changing for Inter. The club recently started to take steps in the right direction.
They appointed Antonio Conte, a proven manager in the league, as well as in world football. Their squad was strengthened since the arrivals of Romelu Lukaku, Cristian Eriksen and Lautaro Martinez who is finally starting to show his true potential.
The team is in a good position to clinch a Champions League qualification for next season, and could still win the Europa League this year.
Their neighbours AC Milan are not quite there yet, however. It looks like they could once again miss out on European football altogether. They have a good squad, with players like Donnarumma, Theo Hernandez or Paqueta, but it never seems to click for the seven-time winners of the UCL.
Only time will tell if either Milan sides will become leading forces of the Serie A once more.