Subject: On "buying" vs. "developing" players
From: (Loris Magnani)
Date: Aug 20, 1995

>I think you forget that Frank Rijkaard began his career at Ajax before
>joining Milan later. He is more an Ajax product than a Milan product.
>BTW, Ajax has the ability to produce lots of players like that. Instead of
>Milan who only BUYS players.
>Regards, Henri.

And what is wrong with BUYING players?

What you are dealing with here, Henri and all the others who make a big
deal about how Ajax develops players, is a question of philosophy.

Ajax's philosophy is to sink a lot of money in their youth system (a lot
more than the other Dutch team, eh, lads?) and then to skim the cream
from this admittedly very efficient system. They then sell these players
to clubs like Milan or Inter or Barcelona and re-invest the money they
make in their youth system.  The coaches, scouts, trainers, etc. in 
the Ajax youth system don't work for free.  Therefore, the Ajax youth
system needs $$$ to function.  

Milan's philosophy is different.  They feel they get more out of their
$$$ by buying established players rather than investing in a youth system.
Probably, given the greater numbers of good teams in the Italian League
than in the Dutch League, this is a wise strategy because it would take
a proportionately greater share of the overall $$$ available in the
Italian League for young players for Milan to corner the Italian youth 
market the way Ajax has cornered the Dutch (and Surinamese and Indonesian, 
right lads?) market.  So Milan prefers to invest their money in this 
fashion.  Given their results OVER 5 DECADES (!!!!!) I'm not going to argue 
against this philosophy.

So you see, you may like blue and I may like red, but you can't convince
me that blue is better than red and I can't convice you that red is better
than blue.  This is a matter of esthetics, or if you let me stretch a bit,

So your pride in developing players is fine, but I have pride in Milan's
long, intelligent selection of outstanding foreign talent:
off the top of my head:

Ettore Puricelli
Gunnar Nordhal
Niels Liedholm
Gunnar Gren
Dino Sani
Juan Schiaffino
Jose Altafini
Karl-Heinz Schnellinger
Ernesto Grillo
Kurt Hamrin
Jimmy Greaves (!!)  9 goals in 10 games in 1961 before deciding he didn't like 
Mark Hateley
Ray Wilkins
Rudd Gullit
Marco Van Basten
Frankie Rijkaard
JP Papin

It is no coincidence that Milan's worst international (and national) 
post-war period coincided with the effects of Italy's closed frontiers 
to foreigners from the mid-sixties to the early 80's.  (Milan was still
a power in the late sixties and early seventies because foreign players
already in Italy could still play for italian teams - e.g. Schnellinger
and Hamrin. When the internal supply ran out, Milan's decline began:
No appearances in European finals from 1975 to 1987).

You see, Juventus and Inter (to a lesser extent) have historically dominated 
the internal italian market.  Without foreign players, Milan was not able to 
compete with those two teams.  

With foreign players available and Milan's PHILOSOPHY of getting the
best available,  Milan can compete with ANYONE. And their record shows it.

If you wish to stop A.C. Milan just do what Italy did in the mid-sixties.
Close the foreign transfer market (no longer possible, by the way, because
of EEC considerations).   Since this is no longer possible, you are
"stuck" with a powerful A.C. Milan at least through the end of the century.

Subject: Re: On "buying" vs. "developing" players
From: (Loris Magnani)
Date: Aug 21, 1995

>    Nothing is wrong with it, I suppose, from the standpoint of 
>success. But isn't there something distasteful about forming your
>team by buying players? 

Not from my point of view...this is what I was saying in my original
article.  It's going to vary from person to person.
 When I was a boy growing up in Milan, my favorite player was
Gianni Rivera.  But my second favorite player was Karl-Heinz "Carletto"
Schnellinger.  We all knew he was German, but that didn't stop us from
considering him one of our own.  Because he wore the "maglia rossonera"
(red-and-black shirt).  It's the colors (in the American street gang
sense) that are important.  Players come and players go, but the colors
always remain.  As long as a player wears the red-and-black with honor,
I really, honestly don't care one iota where he comes from.

When Frank Rijkaard came to Trieste to play the return match of the
Ajax-Milan series from the first round of the Champions League he was
cheered so mightily by the Milan fans that it brought tears to his eyes.
(so he said, anyway)...what's distasteful about that?  He set up 
Kluivert's goal in the final to beat Milan.  Do you think that the
next time he comes to Milan (maybe for an old-timer's game) he will be
cheered any less ? I don't think so.  The reason is because while he
wore the red-and-black, he honored those colors with his play,
and so he honored us (the Milan fans), and so we will honor him always.
The fact that he's dutch doesn't enter into it one bit.  

That's the emotional argument.  The rational one is that Italy is a fairly
large European country.  Milan is made up of players from all over Italy.
Actually very few are from Milano or even Lombardia. So, to me, as a 
milanese, it never mattered that someone came from Padova, or Roma, or 
Napoli, or by extension, Stuttgart, or Vienna.  Maybe in Holland all Ajax 
players come from Amsterdam because that's where their youth program is...
but that's not going to work in a country as large as Italy....

>Note that I am not the original poster, and so I am not defending
>Ajax here. I am merely arguing with your point that there is "nothing
>wrong" with a team's success based on its ability to buy a team. Maybe
>you disagree with me, and I am curious to hear your arguments.

I don't expect you to agree with me, because as I said in my original 
argument this business comes down to a matter of opinion.  But at least
you know where I stand.   From my perspective, it's the Red-and-Black
which is most important.  Where the man comes from is a detail (like the
colors of his eyes, or hair) which is interesting but does not matter
to me.