ROME (AP) — It’s the type of freewheeling spending spree that has been the domain of Middle East sheikhs and Russian oligarchs in recent years.
Only this time it’s the new Chinese owners of AC Milan who have been dominating football’s transfer market.
The signing of prized Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci from six-time defending Serie A champion Juventus on Friday boosted Milan’s offseason spending to 211 million euros (nearly $250 million) — easily the most in Europe.
Other recent signings by the Rossoneri have included forward Andre Silva from FC Porto; midfielders Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Franck Kessie and Andrea Conti (Atalanta), Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen) and Lucas Biglia (Lazio); and defender Mateo Musacchio (Villarreal).
With teenage goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma having agreed to extend his contract until 2021 and another big forward signing expected, Milan could be in position to challenge for its first Serie A title since 2011.
It’s the type of outlay made by the likes of Roman Abramovich when he took over Chelsea in 2003, Sheikh Mansour at Manchester City in 2008 and the Qatari investors in Paris Saint-Germain in 2011.
The overhaul reminds former Milan coach Arrigo Sacchi of when Silvio Berlusconi took control of the club three decades ago and quickly acquired the likes of Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten, Carlo Ancelotti and Frank Rijkaard.
The important thing, Sacchi said in an editorial in the Gazzetta dello Sport on Saturday, will be for the new owners to give Milan coach Vincenzo Montella the time to mold a proper squad.
“Berlusconi and (former Milan vice president Adriano) Galliani were extraordinary and determined with me, showing confidence and respect for me even though we were far from the top by Christmas,” Sacchi wrote.
“Montella’s job won’t be easy,” Sacchi added. “He’s going to have to create the right chemistry and find a system of playing that makes all of…