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What next for Shevchenko?
He broke records galore in seven years at AC Milan, but his two seasons at Chelsea have been utterly miserable. Injury has played a part in his fall from grace, but generally the 31-year-old has been too slow for the demands of English football and has lost his magic touch.
Why then are AC Milan so obsessed with bringing him back to the San Siro? You could count on one hand the number of players that have gone back to their former clubs and succeeded. Ian Rush (Liverpool-Juventus-Liverpool) may be one along with Juan Roman Riquelme (Boca Juniors) and Mark Hughes (Manchester United) but there are few other instances (Johann Cruyff, Robbie Fowler and Teddy Sheringham were never as good on returns to Ajax, Liverpool and Spurs for example).
Club president Silvio Berlusconi, a personal friend of the Ukrainian, may think the striker can roll back the years if he returns to familiar, comfortable surroundings. But Serie A is not the league he left. The play has got quicker, conversely because the standard is lower.
Milan have a habit of buying players when they are past their best. Ronaldo was an injury waiting to happen when he signed from Real Madrid. Now the soon-to-be ex European champions are courting Barcelona’s Ronaldinho, simply because he may come on the market because he is not as good as he was.
Think also of Inter Milan, who brought in Luis Figo when he was in decline and Patrick Vieira after he’d had his best years at Arsenal. Contrast that with English football, which is so dominant now because they buy players at their prime or just before (Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Torres).
To be fair to Milan, they took a gamble signing 18-year-old Brazilian striker Alexadre Pato, and it has partially paid off. Carlo Ancelotti has said Pato and Shevchenko are too similar, but that hasn’t stopped Berlusconi.
Media reports say Sheva may be given a free transfer by Chelsea. I think he should resist the temptation to return to Milan. What do you think?
Mark Meadows, Milan
PHOTO: Shevchenko with Chelsea team mate Didier Drogba, whose form has often kept the Ukrainian out of the starting lineup. March 2007 REUTERS/Eddie Keogh