Milan today confirmed the €38m signing of Porto striker Andre Silva, so Football Italia takes a look at what to expect from the new man.
Words: Federico Manasse
By now, most Serie A aficionados will have familiarised themselves with the idea of a renewed and ambitious Milan.
Spearheaded by Massimiliano Mirabelli and Marco Fassone, the Rossoneri have initiated what appears to be a serious and competitive project, with the aim of reorganising a team that currently lacks in the necessary quality to compete internationally. The early signings of Mateo Musacchio, Franck Kessié and Ricardo Rodriguez are testament this willingness to reform. And if these three weren’t enough, a fourth signing has now been made official – 21-year-old André Silva, arriving from FC Porto for a fee of €38m plus bonuses.
A lot has been said about the young centre-forward, but truth is that most Milanisti will not be entirely familiar with Silva.
The Portuguese wonderkid was initially spoken of as a mere backup plan for the Rossoneri. Nonetheless, considering the palpable limitations of the Andrea Belotti, Alvaro Morata and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang deals, Silva increasingly attracted Milan’s interest. The Fassone-Mirabelli tandem carried out the transfer immaculately, swiftly and with almost total transparency. Initiating the talks with agent Jorge Mendes in Cardiff, on occasion of the Champions League final, the duo silently finalised the deal in just eight days, with Silva completing his medicals on June 12.
Structurally speaking, the player is to some extent comparable to other forwards considered by the Rossoneri, such as Belotti or Diego Costa, in that his game also relies heavily on his roughness and drive, physical as much as mental.
Moreover, despite the young age, Silva has already gained Champions League experience with Porto this season and has impressed both domestically and internationally, with club and country. For Portugal, Silva has gradually imposed himself as the country’s starting striker, sheltered under the protective wing of Cristiano Ronaldo. As declared by the player himself on numerous occasions, Cristiano is his role model – this kind of information is not to be dismissed too lightly, given that a mentor like Cristiano will be a positive influence on the youngster.
The player’s main qualities are his opportunism, ‘roughness’ and composure in front of goal – ultimately he’s comparable to the aforementioned Belotti. Clearly though, as opposed to the Torino man, he lacks in Serie A experience and doesn’t speak Italian. It must be considered that problems of this sort, of ‘social nature’, have proven to be a limitation for many foreign players – see Inter’s Gabriel Barbosa, for example.
On a purely technical level though, Portuguese football analyst Tiago Estevao has listed the following as Silva’s most notable traits: “solid all-round striker, a good finisher, with good positional awareness, ability to connect well with midfield and enjoys chasing defenders”. These characteristics seem to match the archetype of the striker which best fits to Montella’s style of play, a striker whom is not only devoted to scoring goals - like Carlos Bacca - but also to interacting with the team. Silva is what can be deemed as a ‘rough’ striker, one who provides a constant nuisance for defenders, by means of tireless pressing and aggressiveness.
The numbers appear to confirm Silva’s ability to combine with his teammates, considering the player’s impressive eight assists in 2016-17. Numbers also seem to speak for themselves when it comes to Silva’s composure in front of goal, with 26 overall goals between club and country this season. Silva’s 16 league goals were scored at a rate of one goal every two games – the numbers speak for themselves. These stats are even more impressive when considering that Silva was often employed as a winger and/or ‘second striker’, as opposed to his natural role of centre-forward.
When it comes to Silva’s weaknesses, or areas to improve, Tiago suggests that Silva “isn’t particularly impressive physically nor is he outstandingly quick”. However, he also confirms that Silva is “solid all-round and doesn't tend to cave in big matches”. In other words, Silva doesn’t, seemingly, have any distinguishable weakness, if not for his inevitable lack of experience. Good news for the Rossoneri.
On paper, it seems like Silva has everything he needs to play a relevant role in what is to be a make-or-break season for Milan: he’s young, talented, an all-rounder and apparently fitting to Montella’s notion of the game. As always with youngsters, a significant part will be played by the player’s ability to adapt and the aid he receives from the staff and from his colleagues. Under this aspect, Silva is lucky enough to join a team that is expected to be completed relatively soon (as testified by the numerous early signings). If Fassone and Mirabelli accomplish their mission, the 21-year-old will surely find it easier to adapt and become accustomed with his new team.
Height/Weight: 182cm x 78kg
Signed from: FC Porto
2016/17 [All competitions]: 49 appearances, 26 goals
main image via acmilan.com