As Milan look set to add another signing to their already impressive list of transfers this summer, many fans may be wondering what to expect from latest new boy Hakan Calhanoglu. What can he bring to the side, and how does he fit into the set-up under Vincenzo Montella?
The German-born Turkish international is known for predominantly being an attacking midfielder who can apply himself across the line on either flank and through the middle, where he can influence the play more. However, most of his game time this season for Bayer Leverkusen has been on the left flank, where he has been very productive, scoring five goals and providing his teammates with three assists.
If Montella plans on keeping the 4-3-3 formation that he used for a large portion of last season, Calhanoglu could prove to be key in the system. He may not be as quick or direct as Gerard Deulofeu or Suso, but his crossing ability and tendency to take shots from distance could be something that Milan utilize well, especially if they sign another striker like Nikola Kalinic from Fiorentina.
As everyone will be aware, the biggest strength is his free kicks. Calhanoglu is well known for being one of Europe’s best free kick takers and can make set-pieces one of the biggest goal threats for Milan. Whether he is shooting for goal (which he is more than capable of doing, even from about 45 yards out) or providing crosses from corners or deeper free kicks, Calhanoglu can be deadly. It’s an area the Rossoneri have been really lacking in for some time now.
In an inconsistent and disruptive Bayer Leverkusen side, Calhanoglu hasn’t kicked on and become the player many expected he would from his Hamburg days, but not many players could have thrived in the environment at Leverkusen recently. Various managerial struggles and underperforming in the Bundesliga meant that Calhanoglu stagnated at the club. He was also banned for the last four months due to a breach of contract dispute going back to 2011.
In a positive environment surrounded by good players, Calhanoglu could be a star. His classy play next to the rest of the Milan team could be what he needs to excel and this is a move that may well work wonders for him. The Turk’s style of play is somewhat suited to Serie A and can be explosive in certain areas of the pitch, so could prove to be a real match winner for the Rossoneri.
The Milan fans will take to him, as he’s one of those players to have the ability to pull absolutely anything out of the bag at any given moment. As an Italian commentator said, “at last, a player that makes Milan fans want to go back to the stadium.”
He may have been hot and cold in Germany for Leverkusen, but few players have been able to maintain good form at that club in recent seasons.
Calhanoglu has the potential to be a top player in a new-look Milan team and, at the age of 23, he still has lots of time to improve. For €20m plus bonuses, this could be one of the bargains of the transfer window.