Friday August 11 2017
Kessie the key for Milan

Ivorian midfielder Franck Kessie could end up becoming Milan’s best signing of the summer, argues Matthew Santangelo.

Once Milan secured the signing of promising young Ivorian Franck Kessie from Atalanta, supporters knew they had acquired a top player, and one whose possible impact could not be underestimated.

A modern day, box-to-box midfielder, the 20-year-old instantly adds muscle and bravery to the middle of the park. Offensively, his marauding runs to into pockets of space add numbers to the attack, and the ability to create chances do not even begin to explain the depth to his game. His work on the back end to disrupt play and immediately spark attacks is crucial for the approach Vincenzo Montella wants to implement.

To date, the new look Milan has welcomed nearly a dozen new names to the fold, notably including Lucas Biglia and Leonardo Bonucci. Kessie might not have been the most famous player to arrive at Milanello this summer, but he may well be the most effective. Kessie adds a dimension to the midfield that arguably hasn’t existed since the days of Rino Gattuso bossing his every opponent.

On the other hand, there is a strong case to be made for Biglia having the biggest impact on a side hoping to finish in the top four come May. Since Andrea Pirlo departed San Siro for Juventus on a free transfer in 2011, Milan’s midfield has desperately missed that regista to tie the build-up together and freely dictate play at the base.

Captain Riccardo Montolivo has been error-prone in this role for several years now, susceptible to wayward passes and careless play in possession. As time passed, and initial mixed thoughts on the former Lazio captain swung in full support of the Argentine to replace Montolivo, the fanbase quickly warmed up the idea of the 31-year-old Argentine pulling the strings.

Montella showed early in pre-season that he is ready to give Kessie the freedom to be expressive and bully his way all over the pitch. Regardless of whether Montella fields a standard 4-3-3 or switches to the 4-2-3-1, Kessie’s dynamism means he will be handling the dirty work so that Biglia and Bonucci can play to their strengths.

It’s hard to imagine the addition of Bonucci - arguably the world’s best ball-playing defender – as anything but the undisputed and most important signing. However, from what we’ve seen thus far from Kessie, his tireless tracking back will add coverage for both Bonucci and his central partner.

Additionally, the Ivory Coast international’s confidence carrying the ball and deep runs from midfield into the attacking third open up a clear passing option for Bonucci in the vertical build-up. It’s because of Kessie that both Biglia and Bonucci will have these opportunities to shine.

Subjective as it may seem so early in the season, when it’s all said and done, Kessie’s impact will be felt, perhaps cementing him as the key signing of the new Milan regime.

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Have your say...
It was a night to remember. I know it was just Crotone and they had a red card in the opening minutes, but it was great to see the game finished in just 25 minutes. Hope to see something like this in our next match. Frank the Tank is really what we needed. Maybe he is not the star Bonucci is but the strength he provides is essential for us. I really hope we will sigh a LW because I really think Borini is not on that level to be a starter...i see him more as a sub. Forza Milan #weareateam
on the 21st August, 2017 at 8:02am
I am from Karachi, Pakistan. I can proudly say i am one of the biggest fans ever of AC MILAN .. after being heartbroken for several years due to AC Milan below par side i am again hopeful that they will be a side to watch in this coming season.
Love Italy, Love Italian Side, Love Baggio Pirlo Maldini etc.

on the 17th August, 2017 at 6:34am
I think it's fair to say we already know our starting 11 bar a few playrs. ..donna, Conti, Bonnuci, musaachio, Rodriguez, Kessie, Biglia, hakan10, jackjack, andre9, suso.. ...all these are alreday starters and unless there is a formation change to three backline, this is what we expect to see on Sunday. So I don't know why MH keep complaining abt ntn. SMH
on the 16th August, 2017 at 11:34am
@Maldini's Heir Valid points but wait for our season to properly start next weekend. Montella will find his 11.
on the 13th August, 2017 at 6:48pm
@ dami I do moan. A lot. About 90% of internet comments are negative because people tend to only post when they want to vent. The point is Borini is not in our starting 11. Other than that I have no idea (and I'm not sure Montella does either) who our starting 11 is. People talk about rotation but you have to rotate from a base. You don't rotate the base. Montella now should be able to hand the key numbers to the key players that will form the base.
on the 13th August, 2017 at 4:58pm
@Maldini's Heir My god you could moan about anything. Who honestly cares about something as pointless as squad numbers, I don't care what number my players want to wear, it won't impact their performance on the pitch. By you logic Borini is going to have a superstar season as he's wearing a 'normal' number in 11. Mamma mia you have too much time on your hands if this honestly bothers you.
on the 13th August, 2017 at 1:19pm
Ok I need to get something off my chest (I never do that). I hate (HATE) the milan squad numbers. They're horrible. We're like a basketball team. And I think it might be more than just aesthetics. I think it points to a general level of confusion as to who are starting line up is. A few years ago Barcelona brazenly had their starting 11 wearing 1-11. Milan have rightly retired 3 and 6 but really other than these numbers all of our key players should be wearing 1-11 starting with Donnarumma at 1!
on the 13th August, 2017 at 10:18am
Biglia is a much more established player and should get the nod first. Locateli can for now be his back up which would in no way limit him cos we are competing in three fronts this season. So enough game time for both
on the 13th August, 2017 at 2:24am
@ a random Milan fan I completely agree about Kucka. He would've been perfect back up. He was another player that Montella seemed to change his mind about midway through the season. It didn't exactly work out too well since milan were better in the first half of the season!
on the 12th August, 2017 at 1:00pm
what Milan need is a backup for Kessie

such a shame Kuco is already sold
on the 12th August, 2017 at 4:26am
Kessie in the long term could prove the best buy of the season however i think milan are going to play 3 at the back making the fullbacks absolutely key in the attacking phases.

Milan isn't a club which traditionally used box to box midfield players anyway it has always been a case of keeping possession through passing. After poli and montolivo quality of passing i guess a change in style isn't the worst thing in the world. shame for locatelli i can't see him getting much game time.
on the 11th August, 2017 at 11:07pm
Muntari 2.0
on the 11th August, 2017 at 3:59pm
As soon as Montolivo is permanently OUT from Milan, the better for all of us! And from what we could've sen in the pre-season games, Milan DEFINITELY need another top class striker! They shouldn't save money, and pay as much as the price is (70, 80, 90 mil),'cause next summer they'll have to play by FFP rules. Only this year, as 1st of the new owners, is allowed to spend as much as they want/can.
So, bring Bellotti (best option, but unrealistic price), Aubameyang, or even Kun, if Pep allows it.
on the 11th August, 2017 at 11:40am
The key will be to find a consistent line up and formation. Looking at the squad it is most suited to 3-4-3. We have to play all 3 of Musacchio, Bonucci and Romagnoli. Conti and Rodriguez are really strong going forward. Biglia and Kessie in midfield and then 2/Bonaventura, Hakan and Suso behind Silva. The bench also suits 3-4-3 with limited options in midfield other than Locatelli. I think it would be better for everyone if Monty moved on. I'm sure he'd perform better elsewhere.
on the 11th August, 2017 at 10:59am
Locatelli will get his chance just like now that biglia is injured or during cup games and European commitments. So I think not only will he have time to play but he will also be vital to the team this season because he has shown that he has talent and skills to pull the strings as a deep playmaker.

Also I just wish the whole team can get to know each other and play as a team so that they canbbe competitive both on the local scene (Series A) and on the foreign scene (Europa).
on the 11th August, 2017 at 9:12am

They are playing locatelli... Biligia is out for at least a month as well.
on the 11th August, 2017 at 8:35am
kunal - last season Locatelli was patchy, which is no shame for a midfielder of his age. Biglia is a much better player, at the moment.
on the 11th August, 2017 at 7:44am
Why not play Locatelli who has been so promising instead of Biglia
on the 11th August, 2017 at 3:08am

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