As Gianluca Lapadula and Carlos Bacca edge towards the San Siro exit, attention will swiftly turn to securing the services of a prominent forward. With the future of M'Baye Niang also in doubt, new signings Andre Silva and Fabio Borini remain the only guaranteed options, and while Milan have spectacularly recruited new personnel in defence and midfield, the striking department is desperately short.
There is no doubting Silva’s ability. The Portuguese youngster is supremely talented, but is still learning his trade and cannot be expected to lead the line on his own. Meanwhile, Borini may have started his career upfront, but spent the majority of his time in a wide role at former club Sunderland. With a return of 16 league goals in five seasons, the Italian has certainly not been signed for his net-finding prowess.
The two reported names on the shortlist are Nikola Kalinic and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but it’s the latter who Milan should actively target. Aubameyang, of course, needs no introduction, having featured as a Diavolo youth teamer 10 years ago.
If money is no object, the Borussia Dortmund goal machine should be the only candidate in the running. Milan have already spent in excess of €150m, but the return of a former face would be the difference maker, the signature signing of a new era.
Aubameyang has the X-Factor and would provide a completely different dimension to a young and energetic Rossoneri side. Blessed with searing pace, the striker would thrive on the regular supply of service, especially from new full-backs Andrea Conti and Ricardo Rodriguez, and provide the finishing touch to quick team transitions.
To put in to context, last season Lapadula and Bacca notched a combined total of 21 league goals, in comparison to the Gabon hitman’s personal tally of 31. If the Diavolo are serious about mounting a sustained challenge to their rivals, they need their very own Gonzalo Higuain or Edin Dzeko, and quite simply, you know what you’re getting with Aubameyang.
Yes, it would cost a sizable figure to extract the striker from his current side, but goals are a priceless commodity and will likely be the difference in Milan playing Champions League or Europa League football in the 2018-19 season.
From a personal and professional perspective, the player would not need any encouragement to hit the ground running. The potential move has come at the right time for both club and striker. As the finished article, Aubameyang won’t need refining like Silva, and this would be an added bonus. The 28-year-old can ease the burden on his strike-partner, especially if the former Porto man struggles to initially settle.
The alternative to the French-born attacker is Kalinic. The Croatian’s exploits are well known, having played in the division for two seasons, and would be a dependable acquisition. Kalinic is the cheaper option and would be happy with the move. The forward has carved out a good career for himself in Italy and would not take his place for granted, but Milan need more than that, and must push for Aubameyang.
Time is crucial and the Rossoneri must now act decisively. Aubameyang has earned his status as a respected forward on the continent and is the man to propel Milan back in to contention for major honours.