Brinkmanship in the transfer market has become a speciality at AC Milan. In the boardroom there are some of the game's most experienced and wily negotiators.
In times of plenty, the vice-president Adriano Galliani would always back himself to make the right deal and gain for his club more than he yields.
In times of austerity, Milan think themselves as resourceful scavengers if they need to be.
The club have developed a habit of making trades very close to the summer transfer deadline. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his advisers spent hours and hours sealed in an office at Barcelona's Camp Nou to finalise the move that brought the Swede back from Spain to Italy two Augusts ago.
Ibrahimovic then helped deliver Milan's first Serie A title for seven years.
His departure, last month, was less drawn-out. The club Ibrahimovic has gone to, Paris Saint-Germain, give the impression they do not quibble over small change.
Galliani has this summer been counting out well over €60 million (Dh220.3m) of PSG money, drawn from the deep pockets of their Qatari owners, from the sales of the Swedish striker and the Brazilian defender Thiago Silva.
Milan have been auditing a reduced wage bill, too, not only because Ibrahimovic is no longer on the staff, but because a number of other high-earners, such as Thiago Silva, Alessandro Nesta, Clarence Seedorf, Mark van Bommel and Rino Gattuso have gone. Antonio Cassano followed them by joining Inter Milan just before the weekend's opening round of fixtures, in a part-exchange deal bringing Giampaolo Pazzini the other way.
Pazzini began Milan's meeting with Sampdoria at San Siro on the bench, and was made fully aware by the banners and chants from the crowd that his arrival is in no way considered adequate compensation for the many departures. Nor is that of Riccardo Montolivo, the cerebral Italy midfielder picked up on a free transfer from Fiorentina.
Nor Cristian Zapata, brought in from the relegated Spanish club Villarreal, to cover some of the hole left by Nesta and Thiago Silva.
Milan fans appreciate economic times are hard in Italy, but expect more from a proud club.
"We are waiting patiently for August 31," said one banner, referring to Friday's transfer deadline. That patience had thinned, once Milan had lost 1-0 to Sampdoria.
There will almost certainly be signings before the portcullis on deals comes down. Negotiations to bring back Kaka, once a Milan hero, from Real Madrid are continuing but still complicated. And Milan need something more than a gesture acquisition to lift the gloom in the grandstands.
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