Thursday August 3 2017
Jack the lad for Milan

Milan needn’t search for the expensive star name, as they have their leader in Giacomo Bonaventura, writes Tom Scholes.

Sometimes, when you try and build something new you end up looking for the perfect item to complete whatever your project is. Sometimes, you spend a lot of money on this item, taking a huge risk and hoping that it pays off. However sometimes the perfect item is right in front of your eyes.

This is exactly what has happened at Milan this summer, as they have tried to reconstruct their team, but the perfect player to build this team around was already in the squad. In fact, he’s been there for three years.

As the Europa League fixture against Craiova showed, Giacomo Bonaventura is the man to star in this Milan side. His goal opened up proceedings at San Siro and as he played in a midfield three with Franck Kessie and Manuel Locatelli, he was the creative force. Play went through him and he was the one who made things happen. It sounds quite simple, but he knew exactly what to do at the right time.

For the first half of last season, he was superb for Milan, being their key figure then as well, but a serious injury after the winter break was disastrous for the Rossoneri. It may have been easy for Milan to go out and pay top money for the likes of Federico Bernardeschi, for example, but a fully-fit Bonaventura is someone you can trust to make you a better side.

The 27-year-old’s versatility is also key to how this side wants to play, with Coach Vincenzo Montella switching between 4-3-3 and 3-5-2, two formations that are perfect for Bonaventura. Most see him as a central midfielder, but he’s also capable of playing on the left-hand side of a front three, where he actually had a better goal record.

The win over Craiova was further evidence, however, that in the centre of midfield, Bonaventura can be just as effective. Sitting next to a player like Kessie allows him to make late runs into the box, similar to what Frank Lampard used to do for Chelsea when paired next to Claude Makelele or Michael Essien. That’s something that would work if Milan plan on exploiting the wings this season, but he can also be dangerous when they have the majority of possession, against teams who will immediately sit deep.

This game was a perfect example of both situations. He scored his goal following a late run into the box, and tried to create chances for Patrick Cutrone once Craiova sat deep and invited pressure on to them. It was this kind of performance that shows why Bonaventura should be the player Milan focus on.

People may look at him and say ‘well, he’s not marketable across the globe. Milan need a superstar’ which may be somewhat true, but as Billy Beane said “we ain’t selling jeans here.” Who cares if he doesn’t look like a marketing machine, he’s a great player! He’s popular amongst Milan fans (he has the second most likes on the official Milan website, whatever that means) and is widely regarded across Europe as one of the most under-rated players around.

Jack Bonaventura should be the figurehead of this revamped Milan side. It makes sense, especially given the players he has around him to compliment his ability, to make him the focal point. No matter what happens, it is imperative that Bonaventura remains a vital part of this Milan machine. 

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Have your say...
All you have to do is look how the team struggled last year when he went down injured. He is a very good player but more than that, he has a genuine love of the Milan shirt. He brings exuberance to the team. He's exactly the kind of player Milan need.
on the 7th August, 2017 at 12:23pm
@Maldini's Heir;

Kanchelskis was sold in 1995, when Beckham was 20. Locatelli is 19 and not at the point in his career than Beckham was at 20. A year isn't always a little.

Locatelli is going to play a lot. He's going to fight with Biglia for that registra spot. And in a year we'll see where he is.

Let's not forget that players rotate a lot more nowadays than they used to. In two years Locatelli can worry about Biglia leaving so that he can play. The comparison is all superficial.
on the 5th August, 2017 at 6:43pm
Anonymous69, with all due respect, I could probably teach you a thing or 2 about reading football, you don't need to mock anyone to prove your point.. So excuse me for having an opinion. I've been a Milan fan since the days of Van Basten and I'm as anxious as anyone here to see them succeed, including Jack, but that's really what I think of him, I hope time will prove me wrong but I highly doubt it, he's 27 don't forget, not much left to learn about him, time will tell, for you, for me..
on the 4th August, 2017 at 11:03pm
decade. Can we do that? We've signed a whole new team so hopefully that is it. 2017/2018 is Year Zero and we can build from now. But we better not end up doing the same thing again in January and next summer. Also I'm very concerned about Bertolacci's comments about Milan training. It's not acceptable that so many of our players were not in the right "condition" for the EL qualifiers. Montella knew they were happening so why didn't we starting pre-season sooner and train harder?
on the 4th August, 2017 at 10:53pm
As I keep saying the difference between teams is not these "world class" "world beating" "super stars". It's much narrower than that. Most of the best teams have played together for a very long time. The big difference between Juve and everyone else is they've been together for 7 odd years. Most Juve players would've struggled at Milan because of the instability. So for this Milan side to reach Juve's level (which is the level I want) we need to be sticking to pretty much the same squad for next
on the 4th August, 2017 at 10:50pm
Milan were actually challenging for the Champions League by January last season and then Montella completely changed his mind about players. Niang and Bacca who'd helped get us there were frozen out. Players who had been frozen out like Zapata and Vangioni were suddenly re-introduced. For some reason Paletta (our starting CB last season) is no longer considered to be good enough to be our reserve CB this season. Zapata, remarkably, is one of the only "old guard" to remain. It's a mess.
on the 4th August, 2017 at 10:48pm
@ putuco Locatelli has enormous potential. Most importantly the big difference between him and say Monty is that he moves the ball quickly. When Monty got injured last season and Locatelli came through he added this sharpness that Milan so often lack and which costs us points against the smaller teams. Starting in the 2nd leg doesn't change anything. Montella cannot make up his mind. He was excited to work with Niang last season and Niang was gone by January and is now back again
on the 4th August, 2017 at 10:45pm
if we're playing with two CBs and we already have Romagnoli. We'll probably end up rotating our CBs. CBs should never be rotated. They should start every single game, I bet you we'll end up rotating players every other week and the team will struggle to gel and Montella will be gone by Christmas. We'll hire a new manager whose hopefully capable of picking a consistent starting line up and we'll scrape Champions League qualification.
on the 4th August, 2017 at 10:39pm
@ Jay My concern is we won't actually qualify for the UCL because it's basically a new team and may take time to gel. Rather than building on the foundations of last season, we started again - again for the 5th or 6th time in the last few years. I would've been far happier with any 4 of the 11 or so players we've signed (bar Borini). For example Bonnucci, Rodriguez, Kessie and Silva would've been far better than 11 or so players we've signed. I've no idea why we've signed Bonucci and Musacchio.
on the 4th August, 2017 at 10:36pm
so great milan sides can find space for brocchi stroppa colombo maini and galli but a team looking to build for the future can't find a space for bonnaventura. It is cheap and unjustified he was milan 2nd highest assist maker last season highest in 16 as well as being the 4th highest player in the league. It makes little sense to compare players of the past to today footballers in any case. If you are name a player who can replace maldini or nesta or albertini or ambrosini or inzaghi.
on the 4th August, 2017 at 7:38pm
Big fan of Jack, hope he has a good season to get in the national. However I see him as a sub more then a starter.
on the 4th August, 2017 at 7:29pm
Bonaventura and Kessie should form the core of Milan's midfield for years to come. Biglia as CM for the next couple of years before Locatelli is phased into the starting XI.
on the 4th August, 2017 at 5:53pm
To be a great team you need great players off the bench also. Look at other top teams, whether it be suso loca hakan or bona sitting on the bench to be a great team you need depth. Teams like madrid have and had greats on the bench and do they complain? Milan players have to know that this year when you get your chance you have to take it, there's competition for each position and that's good to have in a squad searching for success.
on the 4th August, 2017 at 5:08pm
anonymous, i think you're watching basketball maybe? you have a lot to learn about reading football lol. limited player? hahah you must be having a laugh! one of the best mid fielders in italy at the moment. put him in barca/psg and watch how he plays! he's just been surrounded by substandard players until now!
on the 4th August, 2017 at 4:42pm
@Anonymous, please go away. When Jack plays, he's always one of the better players for Milan. Many are still in denial with today's market for UCL competition. Milan did not have the funds to compete against teams like PSG *this* is where a strong youth system helps you. Galliani and Co did not know, could not operate in this environment. The times of spending millions on players alone is over. It requires a combination of both youth and money. From what I've seen Milan so far are on right path.
on the 4th August, 2017 at 3:27pm
Competition is good for the likes of Bonaventura, Locatelli, Calabria and Cutrone. Training and fighting for a spot with players of a higher quality is good for development.

There will be enough games to go around so long as Milan progress in Europe. I can see Bonaventura being a key member of the first XI, but for Locatelli, Calabria and Cutrone they will need to shine when they get playing time to prove they are more than just promising players.
on the 4th August, 2017 at 2:59pm
Yes @Viktor, same sport, he disappears against good teams. Let me ask you, Is that who you want to replace Seedorf, Pirlo or Ambrossini with? Yes he's technically gifted but with a bunch of limitations, serious ones. Last time we won the CL we had legends in every position, do you think he'll become a legend?
on the 4th August, 2017 at 12:22pm
MH: How you can say Locatelli is after Montolivo, when Riccardo was in the bench and Locatelli started the game? Your non-sense is endless, really. The comparison with Beckham is ridiculous, are you really so blind that you think that Locatelly can become a world class player? He is good, but that's it, he is not a star. The only young star we have is Donnarumma, the other need to get space or find playing time elsewhere
on the 4th August, 2017 at 11:09am

You are kidding right??

"He's physically lacking, a no show against big teams, can't defend, tactically blind and doesn't acknowledge his limits always trying to go all the way, selfishly,"

That your take on jack???

Are you watching the same sport as the rest of us??
on the 4th August, 2017 at 10:57am
He really underappreciated arriving at milan because the deal for biabiany failed. Despite being consistently one of milan best players having the likes of suso donnarumma and menez featuring in the headlines. His attitude is also excellent you will rarely see him give up he is always giving his best playing for the shirt something as a fan i love. it also helps that he technically brilliant psychically strong and has a boat load of stamina to boot.
on the 4th August, 2017 at 10:36am
If they are good enough, they should show it in training and perform better than the ready made players otherwise they should go out on loan to hone their talents properly and return or learn from experienced players. Their time will come. We need to get back to Ucl immediately otherwise the enthusiasm that naturally flows from this re-branded milan wil wane with time. We cannot afford to become another arsenal.
on the 4th August, 2017 at 10:36am
@Maldini's heir, which is more important to you? Prioritizing players from our youth or prioritizing Ucl qualification? This is Ac milan, not arsenal. Locatelli and co as talented as theh are, cannot be guaranteed starters because they can't guarantee us ucl. Saying we shouldn't have signed bigila and other players because they would deny locatelli and other youth products playing time is just ridiculous especially when we have been out of ucl for years.
on the 4th August, 2017 at 10:32am
What a player. Always rated him. Even back when he was at Atalanta! He is skillful, creative, 2 footed, a great passer, good at free-kicks n good at dribbling. He's effective n this is most important, is consistent n doesn't shirk his responsibilities too. Very underrated player indeed! For Italy as well. Whether in midfield or as a winger. He may not have one truly outstanding feature like Deulofeu n his dribbling but as a quality all round player he is hard to beat!
on the 4th August, 2017 at 7:15am
I don't see it, he's a limited player, if Milan are to go places, they need to do much better. He's physically lacking, a no show against big teams, can't defend, tactically blind and doesn't acknowledge his limits always trying to go all the way, selfishly, taking advantage of the lack of competition like Balo and Menez did before him.
Flashes here and there don't make him a leader, please go back to over-hyping Sturridge and co. in the EPL.
on the 4th August, 2017 at 3:40am
used as a "utility player". Cutrone will be third choice behind Silva and Mr X. He'll be lucky to get 10 games. This time next year they'll be sold for "not reaching their potential" and replaced with "world class" players. Is this team I want to support? A "team" consists of "players". If you can get relate to the players you can't relate to the team. No matter how much money it has. Hopefully after this revolution is over we can have a bit of stability for a while.
on the 4th August, 2017 at 3:03am
People say I wouldn't be happy if milan signed Messi. Not that it's realistic since Messi is an actual one club player. I want milan to find their own Messi. And then only way they'll do that is by backing players and giving them space. The way I see this season playing out for these players this season, save for injuries and sales, Locatelli will be our 5th midfielder (behind Biglia, Kessie, Monty and some other multimillion signing like Sanchez), Bona will lose his place to Hakan or worse be
on the 4th August, 2017 at 2:59am
In fact they did the opposite. They sold kanchelskis to give him space. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Bona and Hakan (as I'll call him) are playing for one position. The latter is a better player. But he's not Bona. Then we have Cutrone. What potential? And he's taken his chance. And then immediately milan are talking about signing a striker. An over-the-hill one at that. Talk about a slap in the face.
on the 4th August, 2017 at 2:53am
Now for some misery guts. One of the reasons I complain so much is because of the exact things I'm just been raving about. I want to see these players do well. And the 10 or 12 or however number of signings we're gong to make and our massive squad will prevent that. I honestly don't see a long term future for many of these players. Biglia will deny Locatelli playing time at a crucial moment in his career. It'd be like if Man Utd had signed some superstar winger instead of believing in Beckham.
on the 4th August, 2017 at 2:45am
liked and was delighted when milan signed him. Rodriguez makes up for the disappointment that was De Sciglio's Milan career (I'm sure he'll recover at Juve). Conti us a great player and am more than happy to back him rather than take a punt on Calabria. Calabria could be to milan what (not joking) Phil Neville was to Man Utd's treble winning side.
on the 4th August, 2017 at 2:38am
I get accused of being a misery guts around here so I'll start with the positive. Good, solid, professional performance. Great to see the "old guard" perform so well: Donna, Locatelli, Bonaventura and Suso. Also great to see Cutrone. These are the players I get excited about. These are the players I want to build Milan around. The "new guard" also performed admirably. I have criticised Kessie for ball hogging but I thought he was great in this game. Exactly what we need. Musacchio I've always
on the 4th August, 2017 at 2:33am

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