Best transfer windows: Dutch connection for AC Milan makes them pick of 1980s

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Real Madrid’s emphatic start to this summer’s transfer market has stolen football’s attention.

An extensive rebuild promised to returning head coach Zinedine Zidane has already seen – including deals previously agreed – more than €300 million spent on the likes of mesmerising Chelsea attacker Eden Hazard, promising Eintracht Frankfurt forward Luka Jovic and emerging Lyon left-back Ferland Mendy.

There is still the promise of even more to come, with links to €150m-rated Manchester United centre midfielder Paul Pogba refusing to go away.

This splurge is sure to transform Los Blancos’ expectations after they claimed just the Club World Cup in 2018/19. But how does it compare to previous ones?

We’ve looked back through the past five decades to select the most-consequential pre-season spending sprees. Here is the pick of the 1980s:

AC MILAN (1987)

Key arrivals: Carlo Ancelotti, Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten, Alessandro Costacurta (loan return)

Honourable mentions: Juventus (1982 – Michel Platini, Zbigniew Boniek), Napoli (1984 – Diego Maradona, Salvatore Bagni), ­Inter Milan (1988 Lothar Matthaus, Andreas Brehme, Nicola Berti), Barcelona (1989 – Michael Laudrup, Ronald Koeman)

Serie A’s lengthy stranglehold on the transfer market would begin during the era of excess that was the 1980s.

No one rode this wave better than billionaire businessman – and controversial future Italian prime minister – Silvio Berlusconi.

A fallen giant was saved from bankruptcy by the plutocrat in February 1986. In little more than a year, his enormous injection of cash would start turning into football gold.

The summer of 1987 witnessed real alchemy. Revolutionary head coach Arrigo Sacchi was poached from Parma and furnished with the players to match his grand vision.

A world-record 18 million guilders (£6m) landed dynamic Netherlands midfielder Ruud Gullit from PSV Eindhoven. Another raid on the Eredivisie would secure the signature of the world’s – then – most-promising striker: Ajax’s Marco van Basten.

It wasn’t just brazen spending, either. Cultured, but oft-injured, Italy midfielder Carlo Ancelotti was snared from Roma and versatile defender Alessandro Costacurta was welcomed back from a spell away on loan at Monza.

With the supreme talents of Frank Rijkaard, Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi’s calibre already in place, a flood of trophies would follow.

Van Basten would net 125 times in 201 games before a chronic ankle injury effectively ended his career aged 28. Gullit would excel in virtually every position on the pitch, Ancelotti provided the brains of the side until 1992 and Costacurta would notch 693 appearances.

Together with Sacchi, they cast aside the constraints of ‘Catenaccio’. An innovative high-pressing style in a 4-4-2 formation would influence the likes of Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp.

Before Sacchi’s intense and meticulous methods provoked an inevitable implosion, he’d claim nine major trophies with the iconic squad that was shaped in summer 1987.

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