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Gilardino’s Arrival Ends Summer of Discontent
18.7 || jcagney

“All I want is for Gilardino to do what he's done for the last few years - to confirm the great forward that he is,” utters bald-headed Milan VP Adriano Galliani. Without question the news of Gilardino’s arrival is the most satisfying sound Milan fans have heard since Spanish referee Manuel Enrique Gonzalez blew his whistle to signify half-time in the Champions League final in Istanbul on May 25th last.

It’s been a long while in coming, however, for Milan supporters across the globe, it’s been well worth the wait. The arrival of the Italian international striker, for a transfer fee reported to be in the region of €24million (17m), is certain to be greeted with a collective nod of approval from the Rossoneri tifosi - still smarting from their side’s embarrassing second-half capitulation against Liverpool in the aforementioned Champions League final – and will go a long way towards satisfying the calls for a world class signing to improve a team which spectacularly fell at the last hurdle, both at home and in Europe, last term.

Gilardino, who has scored 23 goals in each of the last two Serie ‘A’ campaigns, is now expected to complete a medical at Milanello tomorrow before flying out with his new team-mates as they embark on their pre-season summer tour of the United States.

The five times capped Azzuri international joins Czech Republic defender-cum-midfielder Marek Jankulovski, Dutch midfielder Johann Vogel and former Internazionale favourite Christian Vieri as Milan’s major, nay main new signings, but it will be the arrival of Gilardino that will be capture the fan’s imagination most.

Born on the 5th of July 1982 in Biella (45 miles outside of Turin), Gilardino grew up a Juventus supporter, and even up to last week certain sections of the Italian press were speculating that he would join the club he supported as a child after a last gasp intervention by Juventus GM Luciano Moggi. But It’s been no secret that Milan was the first preference of Gilardino (as recently as last weekend informing journalists that it was either a move to Milan or to remain with Parma until he was a free agent in 2007) and vice-versa, however, an exhaustive bout of executive haggling over the last month or so left some fans wondering whether or not the player would eventually end up at the San Siro, and if so, the possibility that it could have been in a Nerazzuri shirt instead.

Gilardino made his Serie ‘A’ debut for Piacenza on the 6th January 2000 - fittingly against his new employers, Milan – and went on to score 3 goals in 17 league games for the club before moving on to Verona in September of 2001.The subsequent 2 seasons saw a gradually progressing Gilardino score a further 5 goals in 39 league appearances before joining Parma in the summer of 2002.

In the end, it was the six-times Champions of Europe who won the most coveted signature of the close season, and the club can now boast one of the most fearsome front pairings in world football - namely Alberto Gilardino and reigning European Footballer of the Year, Andriy Shevchenko. Waiting in the wings will be the aforementioned Vieri and Filippo Inzaghi while Danish international Jon-Dahl Tomasson, who was sold to German side Stuttgart over the weekend, bids farewell to the San Siro.

Written by John Cagney

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