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The rise and the fall of Milan Lab

The many injuried AC Milan's players makes we wonder about a Laboratory that changed the use of the medicine in football

The rise and the fall of Milan Lab The many injuried AC Milan's  players makes we wonder about a Laboratory that changed the use of the medicine in football

The injury case of AC Milan's player is becoming the inside joke of the Serie A. After Romagnoli and Calhanoglu's injuries, also Bonaventura is forced to end the season ahead of schedule. If we add Strinic (out by the start of the season for a cardiac problem), Mattia Caldara (who will be back in February), Lucas Biglia and Mateo Musacchio, the joke is getting less funny. It’s hard to shift the blame to the staff, but it’s clear that something in the Milanello training center is not working. But Milan Lab, the famous medical and research center in Milanello, was since 2002 the most vanguardist medical center for sports in Europe, a key of a club that reached two Champions League trophies with a team of 30-years-old who run like 20. In those years Maldini, Seedorf, Ibrahimovic, Ronaldinho and Cafù have said a fine word about Milan Lab, its approach changed professional sports medicine but today his efficiency seems to be lost.


The rise

In 2000 Ac Milan signed Fernando Redondo for 11 Million dollars from Real Madrid. The Argentinian -who won 2 Champions League title in six years- debuted only three seasons later, because of a knee problem he was suffering. The wasted money and energy spent by the club were the reason why the Rossoneri changed radically the approach to his players' care and adopting of the Dutch chiropractic doctor Jean Pierre Meerseema, who has already collaborated with the club.

Milan Lab was founded in Milanello in 2002 by Adriano Galliani and Meerseeman. The doctor decided to adopt a scientific method already experimented by the medic Anatoly Zeletsov, who in the ‘80s invented a strict method to improve the performance of Dynamo Kiev’s players and the Ukraine team dominated the Sovietic Championship for a decade. Milan Lab Philosophy took Zeletsov quantity aspects mixing it with a holistic approach to medicine

who based all the care on the welfare of the nervous system, and neurology. One of the most famous examples is about Clarence Seedorf, cured by Meerseeman from a persistent groin problem, just removing wise teeth. AC Milan’s president invested 5 billion of Lire in laboratories and he entrusted the direction of the medical treatment to the Dutch professor whose method it can be summed in this phrase took by an interview for the Daily Mail, maybe naïf but true.

“Age doesn't exist. What counts is that you are physically and psychologically ready to play. It doesn't matter if you are 21 or 41.”

The new method has led to significant improvements in fitness training, reducing by 70% the use of medicines and by 43% the missed training session.

The Lab helped Milan to become the best team in Europe and the society a model of foresight. In 2007 the club reached its 3rd Champions League final in 5 years with an average team of 34 years-old, the highest ever for a winning club. The captain Paolo Maldini was 38 and two others backbone of the starting lineup as Nesta and Inzaghi were 31 and 34, demonstrating the discrepancy from physical and chronological age. In those years the team invested on the scientific objectivity and “old player like Cafù (32), Stam(31), Oddo (31), Beckham(33) and in 2009 renounced to acquire from Porto Cissokho for a jaw problem under Meerseeman advice.

Thanks to the Milan Lab the club won 2 Champions League, 2 UEFA Supercup, 1 FIFA Club World Cup, 2 Championship, 1 National Cup, 1 Italian Supercup. An impressive palmares with few precedents in football history.

The fall

From the start of Milan's crisis in 2011, the symbol of the failure was Pato, who probably could have won ten Golden feet but he just help Milan Lab to collect one date: 15 different injuries in two years, maybe caused by a bad physical care of his body. The continuous injuries of the Brazilian striker made Berlusconi took the decision to fire the doctor Meerseman, who joined Chelsea the next year helping the club to win the Champions League. 2012 was the worst year for Milan Lab, 307 injuries in 38 match, an important project start to be ridiculed and another of Milan's supporters hope has been broken: Stephan Elsharaawy.

Backing in our days, the problems are too much and we can't ignore them, the physic form of Milan's players was never unforgettable. The power of the team wasn't brilliant in those years and far from the 2007 season one. Many injuries, similar and in the same moment of the season increase the doubt on this project. According to Microsoft Milan Lab is still one of the biggest sport databases in the world and in the last years has drawn the attention of the main European teams as Manchester United, Chelsea and Boca Juniors in football, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat in the Nba, Miami Dolphins in the Nfl and McLaren in F1. Nowadays the intuition to base the team management on data has adopted and perfectioned by others clubs but it seems that in Milanello the method has lost their efficiency and its fame. maybe because of the end of the collaboration with one of the founders of the Lab, Daniele Tognaccini.

Montella doesn't consider it, Kaká admitted its limits and Pato is playing in China. However, maybe Milan Lab is now just a rusty project, and no more a vanguard intuition that changed the way to comprehend the football.