Despite their bitter rivalry, dozens of players have appeared for both Internazionale and AC Milan. While some have managed to maintain their legacy as favourites at both clubs, others are more obscure footnotes in the baffling world of Serie A transfers.
In total, 27 players have featured for both clubs since 1995, with plenty of them moving directly from one to the other.
We decided to rank all 27 of them from worst to best.
27. Drazan Brncic
Milan (2000-01), Inter (2001-03)
Brncic is more notable for being a makeweight in the deal that took the rather more illustrious Andrea Pirlo from Inter to AC Milan than anything he did on the pitch for either club.
26. Umit Davala
Milan (2001-02), Inter (2002-04)
Great for Galatasaray. Taken to Italy by Fatih Terim. Not so great in Milan.
Inter (2008-10), Milan (2010)
Mancini spent two seasons at Inter, in the second of which Mourinho’s team won the double. Unfortunately for Mancini, he had been loaned to neighbours AC Milan for the second half of that season.
He scored no goals in seven games for the Rossoneri and missed out on all the fun. Whoops.
24. Matias Silvestre
Inter (2012-13), Milan (2013-14)
Bought by Inter in 2012, loaned to Milan in 2013. A grand total of 13 Serie A appearances in two seasons at the San Siro. Sold to Sampdoria in 2014. Thoroughly forgettable.
23. Leonardo Bonucci
Inter (2005-07), Milan (2017-18)
Bonucci played for Inter as a youngster but spent most of his time signed to the club out on loan before making his way to Juventus via Bari.
After seven successful seasons at Juventus, he moved to Milan for €42million in 2017, but a single campaign at the San Siro did not go to plan and he was in the car back to Turin quicker than you could say Fiat Cinquecento.
Unquestionably a Serie A legend, just not in Milan.
22. Edgar Davids
Milan (1996-97), Inter (2004-05)
The former Netherlands international is unlikely to ever be remembered for his stints in Milan, with a short spell at each club bookmarking the more memorable chapters of his career.
After conquering the world with Louis van Gaal’s Ajax, Davids spent 18 months with Milan but failed to establish a place in the team before becoming a six-year stalwart for Juventus.
Following a fruitful loan at Barcelona, he signed a three-year deal with Inter in 2004 but was once again on the periphery at the San Siro. His contract was then cancelled after just a year, and signing for Tottenham on a free transfer set off a memorable English odyssey with time spent at Crystal Palace and Barnet.
21. Francesco Coco
Milan (1995-2002), Inter (2002-07)
Probably not as good as Clarence Seedorf, although it’s too late to tell Inter that now.
20. Antonio Cassano
Milan (2011-12), Inter (2012-13)
Born the day after Italy won the World Cup in 1982, Cassano was named Serie A Young Footballer Of The Year in 2001 and 2003.
On the pitch, he’s probably best remembered for his partnership with Francesco Totti. Off the pitch, he made a reputation on his undying love of women and pastries.
His time in Milan goes under the radar in comparison but, as a fringe player, he played a role in AC Milan’s Scudetto won under Max Allegri in 2010-11, averaging a goal or assist every 92 minutes.
19. Taribo West
Inter (1997-99), Milan (2000-01)
After great success at Auxerre, the snazzy-haired, tough-tackling West moved to Inter in 1997, where he spent two happy seasons before a less fruitful third, during which he moved to the Rossoneri.
He didn’t last long there before a move to Derby in what were, according to him, rather worrying circumstances. In 2019, he told Score Nigeria: “The Mafia would do anything in their powers to make sure I was done away with at Milan. They cooked a vicious story in the press that I was injured in the desperate bid to send me out of Milan.
“The doctors were bribed to say I was injured, but it was a lie. They did that because they felt it was unthinkable for an African player to take the place of those three ageing defenders [Baresi, Maldini and Costacurta]. Liverpool came with an offer, but at the end of the day I had to settle for Derby County.”
18. Thomas Helveg
Milan (1998-2003), Inter (2003-04)
A solid stint at AC Milan brought Helveg a Scudetto, a Coppa Italia and a European Cup, but his influence and game time had seriously waned by the time the Rossoneri won the last two of those three pots in the 2002-03 season.
He moved to Inter that summer and a year later was off to Norwich to sample a real glamour city. Apparently, he’s dead against the pedestrianisation of Norwich city centre.
Milan (1998-2001), Inter (2001-04)
Guly won a Scudetto in his first season at Milan alongside Helveg and even scored the winning goal in the game that clinched the title, but injuries disrupted his progress after that.
His appearances were limited over two seasons at Inter – after moving in a swap deal that involved Christian Brocchi going the other way – before he was loaned to Bologna and then sold back to Boca Juniors in his native Argentina.
16. Giampaolo Pazzini
Inter (2011-12), Milan (2012-15)
The former Italy striker won the 2011 Coppa Italia with Inter, but his time with the two clubs largely coincided with the wilderness years of both. If we’re being harsh, there’s an argument that he was emblematic of their decline.
He’s certainly had his moments elsewhere, though.
Not gonna lie, we’ve spent far too much time today watching this Giampaolo Pazzini volley…pic.twitter.com/ViGpvtn1ip
— Planet Football (@planetfutebol) June 30, 2020
15. Dario Simic
Inter (1999-2002), Milan (2002-08)
Simic spent a full decade in the city, with four seasons at Inter and six at Milan.
The Croatian was a solid squad player for both clubs, but he was part of a much better side while with the Rossoneri.
14. Maurizio Ganz
Inter (1995-97), Milan (1998-2001)
Sold by Inter to make way for Ronaldo in 1997, Ganz bears a grudge against the club, with his heart very much at the other side of the divide.
“I call the Internet the Milan-net,” he told The Athletic in 2020, joking he won’t even mutter the word ‘Inter‘.
He’ll have few regrets about the departure, having gone straight to Milan, where he won a league title in 1998-99, featuring up front alongside George Weah and Oliver Bierhoff.
He’s now back at Milan, coaching their women’s team.
13. Giuseppe Favalli
Inter (2004-06), Milan (2006-10)
Most fondly remembered at Lazio, having helped deliver a raft of trophies around the turn of the century, versatile defender Favalli then went on two win more pieces of silverware in Milan.
He lifted the Coppa Italia in each of his two seasons at Inter between 2004 and 2006, as well as the Scudetto in his second season, before joining the Rossoneri on a free transfer.
Favalli was largely on the periphery as a squad player with Milan but came off the bench in the closing stages of the 2007 Champions League final to help see out the 2-1 win over Liverpool.
12. Hakan Calhanoglu
Milan (2017-2021), Inter (2021-)
The latest player to cross the divide, Calhanoglu has joined Inter on a free transfer after deciding against renewing his Milan contract.
He inherited the iconic No.10 shirt after joining Milan from Bayer Leverkusen in 2017 before scoring 32 goals in 172 appearances in all competitions.
While the Turkey international didn’t win any trophies during his four years at Milan, he was often one of their standout performers and helped them finish second in Serie A in 2020-21.
Regardless of how he gets on at Inter, that already makes him better than a lot of players on this list.
Çalhanoğlu bends his free kick just inside the far post from the wing to give Milan the lead! 🎯
A great strike 👏
🗣 “He could be going for goal here…” pic.twitter.com/G7ttL4IClU
— Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV) July 24, 2020
11. Patrick Vieira
Milan (1995-96), Inter (2006-10)
Like fellow Arsenal legend Thierry Henry at Juventus, Vieira also had a short and unsuccessful stint in Serie A before signing for the Gunners. Few remember his year at Milan, in which he made just two first-team appearances.
He enjoyed more a more successful time at Inter, winning the Scudetto in each of his four seasons there between 2006 and 2010.
10. Mario Balotelli
Inter (2007-10), Milan (2013-14, 2015-16)
A rising star of Italian football when he was emerging at Jose Mourinho’s Inter between 2007 and 2010, the club eventually cut Balotelli loose before he had a chance to reach his potential due to his volatile presence in the dressing room.
Still, he won three successive league titles, his influence growing year-on-year before he became Roberto Mancini’s headache at Manchester City.
A nomadic career followed after he left the Etihad, with the occasional glimmer of rekindling that fire, particularly during an 18-month spell at Milan, where he scored 26 goals in 43 Serie A appearances. Returning to the club on loan from Liverpool proved less productive.
This Mourinho Balotelli story! ‘I will spend 14 mins of the 15 speaking only for Mario!’ 😅 pic.twitter.com/HHBTDqCzVD
— Nees (@Nees_MM) August 5, 2020
9. Sulley Muntari
Inter (2008-12), Milan (2012-15)
Having bid farewell to Portsmouth after winning the FA Cup, the Ghanaian midfielder joined Mourinho’s Inter in 2008 and was an underappreciated member of that unforgettable treble-winning side in 2009-10.
Things took a swift downturn after Mourinho’s departure, and he spent a short loan at Sunderland before crossing the divide, originally on loan, in January 2012. Milan were the reigning Italian champions when he joined but it was a gradual downward trajectory from there.
8. Cristian Brocchi
Milan (1994-98), Inter (2000-01), Milan (2001-09)
It’s safe to say at which of Brocchi’s former clubs he’s most fondly remembered.
The former defensive midfielder won two Champions Leagues, a Serie A title and a Coppa Italia as a useful squad player under Carlo Ancelotti at Milan. By contrast, Inter finished an underwhelming fifth place during his one year there in 2000-01.
7. Roberto Baggio
Milan (1995-97), Inter (1998-2000)
Never quite as prolific for either Milan club as he was for Fiorentina, Juventus, Bologna or even Brescia, there’s still no arguing with Il Divin Codino.
He also won one of only two Scudetti while at Milan in 1995-96. Using a phrase later adapted by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he said of his exit from Milan after falling out of favour under Arrigo Sacchi: “I feel like a Ferrari being driven by a traffic warden.”
6. Christian Vieri
Inter (1999-2005), Milan (2005-06)
The definition of a nomadic footballer, Vieri had played for eight clubs in his eight seasons as a professional footballer by the time he signed for Inter in 1999, who he joined because he was desperate to play alongside a certain Il Fenomeno (to whom we will come shortly).
At Inter, Vieri finally settled, maintaining the lethal goal-scoring form he had shown at Atletico Madrid and Lazio and becoming a Nerazzurri idol.
Unfortunately, he left Inter in less-than-ideal circumstances, suing the club after finding out that president Massimo Moratti had been tapping his phone following the arrival of Adriano. In 2014, Vieri told Gazzetta dello Sport: “It’s a real shame the way things ended there. I love Inter and I gave everything for them, killing myself every day for the Nerazzurri colours.”
By the time he got to Milan, his powers were in decline and he was awarded the infamous and very much unwanted ‘Golden Bin’ during his solitary season for them in 2005-06. Still, that doesn’t undo what he achieved for Inter.
5. Hernan Crespo
Inter (2002-03), Milan (2004-05), Inter (2008-09)
The Argentinian never quite produced his best football at Chelsea, but Stamford Bridge’s loss was the San Siro’s gain.
He reached the Champions League final with Ancelotti’s Milan in 2004-05 and scored twice in five stunning minutes at the end of the first half. If AC Milan had held on, he may well be talked about as a club legend, but, well, we all know what happened next.
The following three seasons were spent at Inter where major silverware did arrive in the shape of three straight Scudetti under Mancini and Mourinho.
Inter (1997-2002), Milan (2007-08)
He might have been well past his best by the time he moved to Milan in 2006, but he still managed a few wonderful goals.
The real reason Ronaldo is so high up on this list, though, is the unreal level he reached during his first season and a bit at Inter in the late 90s, when he was at the absolute peak of his powers.
During those glory days in black and blue, he went through hardened Serie A defences like a bulldozer through a gazebo and helped Inter beat Lazio in the 1998 UEFA Cup with a scintillating performance and trademark one-on-one goal.
During the game, Roberto Mancini was trying to give Ronaldo a bit of stick. Ronaldo turned around and said: “Not now, keep quiet. If you want, I’ll give you my autograph after the game.”
Pure confidence from a true phenomenon.
3. Andrea Pirlo
Inter (1998-2001), Milan (2001-11)
He might have become more closely associated with Juventus in recent years, but Pirlo achieved true greatness in Milan long before he put down roots at the Allianz Stadium.
Part of the imperious team that reached three Champions League finals between 2003 and 2007, it was at Milan that Carlo Ancelotti moved Pirlo from the No.10 role to the base of the diamond, from where he became, in Ancelotti’s words, “the best holding midfielder I have ever seen”.
2. Clarence Seedorf
Inter (2000-02), Milan (2002-12)
You could barely get a cigarette paper between Seedorf and Pirlo in terms of this ranking, but we’ve opted for the Dutchman on the grounds that he made more impact at Inter before becoming part of that same double European champion team as the current Juve boss.
Seedorf was a genius and a man made for the big occasion. He remains the only player to have won the Champions League for three different clubs.
Max Allegri, who followed Ancelotti as manager, told La Repubblica in 2014: “Seedorf wanted to discuss every detail and just talk, talk, talk. He drove me up the wall. I’d say to him, ‘Clarence, if everyone behaved like you then I’d need a day with 700 hours in it.””
That attention to detail and obsessiveness is what made him great, though, Max.
1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Inter (2006-09), Milan (2010-12, 2020-)
One of the few men who’s really done it on both sides of the divide, Zlatan loves the San Siro. And it is because he has been equally prolific for both that he takes the top spot here.
There were three consecutive Scudetti with Inter from 2006 to 2009, another with AC in 2011 and, if all goes to plan for him and his current team-mates, there could be another to come in 2022.
“He will have broken the treadmill every day. One who says that coronavirus had a bad idea to challenge him, is mentally stronger than all,” Christian Vieri said back in October 2020 as Ibra faced a race against the clock to be fit for the derby.
“He’ll play the derby with a cigarette in his mouth, trust me.”