As Hakan Calhanoglu becomes the latest, we look at five big names who have alternated between Inter Milan and AC Milan.
Turkish midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu on Tuesday joined reigning Serie A champions Inter Milan on a free transfer. The signing would have been notable in any case, but the fact that he joined from rivals AC Milan piqued the interest of many. Yet it’s worth noting that this is nothing new for Italian football. Loyalty between clubs and players can change at the drop of a dime. The more unkind would argue that this is true of modern football as a whole! But this is especially common in Italy, dating back many years. In fact, more than 20 players have switched between Milan clubs in the past 30 years itself.
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As Hakan Calhanoglu becomes the latest to cross the divide, we look at five big names who have alternated between Inter Milan and AC Milan.
The classic “what could have been” player, it’s easily forgotten that Mario Balotelli actually had quite the successful career. In fact, he was part of the treble-winning Inter side of 2010, although he wasn’t manager Jose Mourinho’s first-choice striker. Still, he won three Serie A titles with the side.
He was cut loose due to attitude issues but was again part of a successful Manchester City side. His return to Milan, however, came in the red and black rather than the blue and black. His first stint at AC Milan saw him score 26 goals in 43 games – excellent returns by any standards.
However, his return to Milan following a disastrous spell at Liverpool proved less successful. Still, he has plenty to show for his time in both Milan clubs.
Christian Vieri, like Balotelli, fit a certain mould. But while Balotelli is a case of wasted potential, Vieri fit the glove of a “footballing nomad”. By the time he turned up at Inter, he had played for – get ready – 8 clubs. He never lasted for more than a season at any of those sides, which included heavyweights like Lazio, Juventus and Atletico Madrid.
By those standards, his time at Inter must have felt like a lifetime – he was there for a total of six seasons from 1999 to 2005. He was very successful in front of goal too, scoring 103 goals in 145 appearances. However, he only managed to win a single trophy during his time there – a Coppa Italia in 2005.
His contract was terminated at the end of the season, due to falling out with both management and the fans. He would sign for Milan straight away. His time there, however, is best forgotten. So bad were his performances that he won the Bidone d’Oro – or Golden Dustbin, the title given to the season’s worst player. That’s the kind of fate Hakan Calhanoglu would doubtless want to avoid.
Roberto Baggio, nicknamed Il Divin Codino (The Divine Ponytail) for his stylish hairdo, is perhaps not fondly remembered at either Milan club. He was at his most prolific at Fiorentina and Juventus but never quite seemed to click at either Milan club. Also, just so you understand how frequently players join rivals in Serie A, it’s worth noting both he and Vieri played at all three of Italy’s big clubs – Juve, Milan and Inter! Amazingly, they aren’t the only players to have played for all three either.
Still, Baggio had two seasons at Milan where he won one of two Scudettos – the other one came at Juve. But while he did win a title with Milan, he fell out with managers – first Oscar Tabarez and then Arrigo Sacchi – over what his best position on the pitch was. His two seasons at Inter were similar – he made key contributions quite often but was eventually offloaded due to managerial egos.
His scintillating ability and eye for goal earned Brazil striker Ronaldo the nickname ‘Il Fenomeno’ – The Phenomenal One. However, it is worth noting that Ronaldo has crossed two major divides in his career. Not only did he play for both Inter and Milan, he’s also played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona!
His time at Inter is best remembered for the fact that he broke the world record for a transfer fee paid for the second time. Incidentally Barcelona – the club he was leaving – had also signed him as the world’s most expensive player. He scored plenty of goals at Inter, and even won the Ballon d’Or at 21 years old. However, he also suffered two huge knee injuries during his time there.
His stint at Milan is less fondly remembered. Although he still had the ability to find the back of the net, weight and fitness issues weighed him down. He spent two seasons with the club before going to Brazilian club Corinthians.
The Swedish striker, much like Vieri, has played for a number of clubs in his career. But he spent a number of seasons in Italy, where he too played for all of Juve, Inter and Milan – in that order. He found success at Juventus but left after the Calciopoli scandal saw them relegated – and promptly joined rivals Inter. Zlatan won three Scudettos with them before departing to Barcelona in a spell best forgotten.
He then came back to Milan after just a year, but this time it was to AC Milan. He won a title with them before leaving for PSG, Manchester United and even LA Galaxy before returning to the club for a second spell. In fact, he is arguably the only person on this list to truly shine for both Milan clubs.