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Berlusconi credited with Milan success

As AC Milan all but mathematically wrapped up an 18th Serie A title with a 1-0 defeat of Bologna at the San Siro, the club president's publicity machine clicked quickly into gear.

sports Updated: May 02, 2011 15:38 IST

As AC Milan all but mathematically wrapped up an 18th Serie A title with a 1-0 defeat of Bologna at the San Siro, the club president's publicity machine clicked quickly into gear.

With Milan needing just a single draw from their three remaining games -- or for Inter Milan to fail to win all of theirs -- to be crowned scudetto kings, club official Adriano Galliani was quick to remind fans who the true hero of the show has been.

Not coach Massimiliano Allegri, who has delivered the title in his first season in charge, and indeed only his third in the top flight.

Nor star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose vital goals and assists in the first half of the season propelled the team to the league summit.

Not dependable veterans like Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf or Alessandro Nesta, whose combined experience has done so much to bring on others around them.

According to Galliani it's all thanks to club president and colourful Italy Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

"We said right from the start that our objective was the title and we confirmed that with our January signings," said Galliani.

"The team owes a lot to Silvio Berlusconi and the fans need to know that without his financial commitment we'd never have closed the gap to Inter."

Having signed Ibrahimovic, Robinho and Kevin-Prince Boateng in the close season and added Antonio Cassano in January, Galliani would seem to have a point.

That is a group who could easily fetch more than 100 million euros in transfer fees but Milan forked out about eight million euros for the four players.

Take Ibrahimovic: just a year earlier he moved to Barcelona from Inter for 50 million euros and Samuel Eto'o (whose value must be considered to be at least 25 million euros).

Twelve months on and Milan snapped him up for a mere 24 million euros and zero up front.

The Swede was signed initially on a one year loan with three installments of eight million euros to be paid over the following three years.

Robinho arrived from Manchester City on a similar deal: 18 million euros -- less than half what City paid Real Madrid for him two years earlier -- to be paid over three installments.

Then there was Boateng. Milan convinced Genoa to buy him from Portsmouth and send him out on loan with the promise that Milan will pay a higher fee for him at the end of the year.

And Cassano, widely regarded as Italy's greatest natural talent, was prised from Sampdoria for a one third share of the five million euro sell-on fee due to his previous club Real.

It's a trend of financial dealing that Berlusconi has exploited in recent years.

Andrei Shevchenko was sold to Chelsea for 30 million pounds in 2006 and then loaned back for a season for free two years later.

Then there was Kaka. In January 2009 Berlusconi accepted a bid of more than 100 million pounds from Manchester City for the Brazilian.

But after Kaka begged not to be sold to City, Berlusconi positioned himself as Milan's saviour by announcing that he had decided not to sell the player.

Six months later Kaka was off to Real for 67 million euros.

Milan still haven't spent all of that money with the likes of centre-backs Oguchi Onyewu and Mario Yepes joining on free transfers to add to the wheeling and dealing of the past 12 months.