Earlier this year on May 21, Juventus were crowned Italian Serie A champions for an unprecedented sixth consecutive season, courtesy of a 3-0 home win over lowly Crotone.
Their nearest challengers Roma finished just four points behind the ‘Old Lady’ in second place, although in truth, there was rarely ever doubt that the Scudetto would remain in Turin for another year.
The Bianconeri have acted smartly in the transfer window so far this summer, strengthening their squad by bringing in highly-rated Italy international Federico Bernardeschi, Bayern Munich winger Douglas Costa and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to serve as back-up for the great Gianluigi Buffon.
Their transfer activity, however, pales in comparison with that of sleeping giants AC Milan, who have spent close to £160 million in an attempt to build a squad capable of returning to the top.
Bankrolled by Chinese business tycoon Li Yonghong, the Rossoneri have made a number of high-profile signings, as they look to significantly improve on last season’s sixth-place Serie A finish.
Earlier last week, Milan completed arguably the most impressive deal of the summer, when they announced that Juventus centre-back Leonardo Bonucci had finalised a shock £35 million move to the San Siro, putting pen to paper on a five-year contract.
Widely considered to be one of Europe’s finest defenders, he was discarded by the Rossoneri’s arch-rivals Internazionale back in 2007 and had been linked with big-money moves to Premier League champions Chelsea, as well as Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, making Milan’s ability to seal the deal even more impressive.
Besides his obvious technical qualities, the 30-year-old Italy international will add personality and a winning mentality to a side that has desperately lacked leaders in the past few years, finishing outside the top five for each of the past four seasons.
One of the key factors in Juventus’ domestic domination in the past six seasons has been their defence, with Bonucci serving as their lynchpin, alongside the likes of Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli, protecting the often-impenetrable Buffon.
His arrival at the San Siro does not only greatly weaken and destabilise Juventus, but lays down a marker ahead of the new season that says Milan are a team to be reckoned with as they look to return to the summit of Italian and European football.
Having seen his side concede 45 goals last season, manager Vincenzo Montella has brought in a number of impressive defensive recruits in an attempt to shore up his back-line.
Mateo Muscacchio was the first player to arrive at the San Siro this summer, joining in a £15 million from Spanish outfit Villarreal, for whom he made over 200 appearances over the past seven years and is now expected to form a formidable partnership at the heart of the defence alongside Bonucci.
Either flank is also likely to be occupied by two more new arrivals, with the highly-rated left-back Ricardo Rodriguez leaving Wolfsburg to work under Montella, whilst Atalanta’s Andrea Conti is the favourite to operate on the right-hand side, following his £21.4 million transfer.
The Rossoneri beat off stiff competition from a host of clubs, including Premier League champions Chelsea, in order to lure 20-year-old highly-rated box-to-box midfielder Franck Kessie to the seven-times European champions, along with deep-lying schemer Lucas Biglia from Lazio.
Milan managed to score just 57 goals last campaign, the second-lowest out of the top 10 sides, so the addition of Turkey international Hakan Calhanoglu should help solve their attacking problems, having found the back of the net six times and racking up five assists in his 15 Bundesliga appearances for Bayer Leverkusen, last term.
Up front, the Rossoneri have parted with £35 million to bring in Portugal international Andre Silva, who arrives on the back of an impressive 2016/17 with Porto.
The 21-year-old scored 20 goals for the Portuguese giants last season, having recently been labelled as the future of the Portugal national team by none other than Cristiano Ronaldo, and will have the likes of Carlos Bacca and M’Baye Niang with whom to share the goalscoring burden.
With the transfer window due to remain open for more than another month, Milan are showing no signs of slowing down, having been linked with moves for the likes of Bayern Munich wonderkid Renato Sanches and Borussia Dortmund’s in-demand forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Whether the Rossoneri further strengthen their side or not remains to be seen, however, with the current pool of talent available at his disposal, Montella has a squad that is more than capable of challenging for major honours in the upcoming campaign.
A good run in the Europa League should ease his side back into the routine of playing European football, but challenging Juventus for the title should undoubtedly be the target that the Rossoneri could set for themselves.
Whilst the signing of Bonucci does not necessarily represent a shift in power, it certainly indicates that Milan are back in business and that their wait for a first Serie A title since 2011 could soon be over.