Thursday January 4 2018
Milan lacking on the left

After neglecting the purchase of a top left-winger, Milan must make it their top priority in January, writes Matthew Santangelo.

Amidst a summer spending spree on a brand-new defence, midfield and strike-force, the assumption was former Coach Vincenzo Montella would administer a three at the back formation for this season, utilizing wing-backs instead of wingers.

The arrivals of Ricardo Rodriguez and Andrea Conti had main men Giacomo Bonaventura and Spanish international Suso booted from the starting XI, unless they were able to adapt into more accommodating roles.

Further up front, north of €65m was shelled out for Andre Silva and Nikola Kalinic, with 20-year old Patrick Cutrone also becoming part of Montella’s plans after the plug was pulled on his loan move to Crotone.

Once Fabio Borini became the lone wide attacker to enter the fray from Sunderland, it became clear the Rossoneri saw little value in having multiple true wingers.

Now, ever since Gattuso replaced Montella and pledged his allegiance to the current 4-3-3, their mindset has changed to one desperate for aid out wide.

If Milan are serious about committing to this shape for the remainder of the season, their activity in the January transfer window is where we will see it.

The Lombardy giants have a month to add a difference-maker on the left flank who could break down opposing sides and provide an attacking threat capable of unlocking the game at any point – and there are plenty of options for Milan to explore for the left-wing, some more realistic than others.

Paris Saint-Germain’s Julian Draxler and RB Leipzig’s Emil Forsberg tick all the boxes supporters would love in this area; silky smooth on the ball, and with both the creative and attacking verve required to ignite a side.

Yet, after spending upward of €250m last summer, it’s highly unlikely Massimiliano Mirabelli and company will court expensive targets with price-tags above €30m. But, based on the fact the club invested heavily by banking on a Champions League berth, perhaps one last high-profile name is in the budget.

Then, there are second tier options that are not only young in age, but also more cost-efficient and can easily provide what Milan are looking for.

Udinese’s emerging Czech star Jakub Jankto is widely recognised as a box-to-box midfielder, but certainly boasts the means to be an effective wide player capable of floating around the final third, as he currently does under Massimo Oddo. He can also serve as a deputy to Franck Kessie, which is another area Milan could look to strengthen.

Certainly, bringing in a 21-year-old like Jankto wouldn’t disappoint, as he is highly coveted all over Europe, but prying him away from the Friuli before the summer when the Zebrette can open a serious bidding war for his signature is no easy feat.

It goes without saying, the logical choice for Milan to satisfy their winter shopping list would be Barcelona’s Gerard Deulofeu.

The 23-year-old spent six months at San Siro during the 2016-17 season, scoring four goals and adding three assists in 17 Serie A appearances to aid the Rossoneri’s run to a Europa League berth. Deulofeu’s blistering pace and dribbling ability would be the missing ingredient for Gattuso’s side, as his speed gives him the licence to take on defenders, and allow for a more direct, counter-attacking brand of football.

Currently, Deulofeu seems like the ideal fit for Milan, but because he kicked on in short time last season, several other Italian clubs appear to have thrown their name in to the hat for his signature – including Inter, Roma and Napoli.

Should the Catalan club seal the deal for Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, the Spanish side would be much more willing to sell Deulofeu, for the simple fact they would have no use for him with Ousmane Dembele returning from injury and reclaiming his rightful starting role. The question is will the player be open to yet another loan move? That remains to be seen.

Milan must make adding a left-winger their number one priority this month, even above adding a back-up for Kessie. If the Rossoneri are to make a second half surge and compete on all three fronts, finding a viable upgrade on the left flank cannot fall by the wayside this month. 

Have your say...
Bonucci on holiday with Chiellini?
What can we read between the lines?
Could Juventus be ready to swoop on Romagnoli?
on the 13th January, 2018 at 5:24pm
Most of all Milan needs a TOP coach.
That's it!
A TOP MANAGER...............
Then cutting its losses by selling Bonucci and Kalinic, there would be enough money to improve the first 11.
on the 7th January, 2018 at 6:18am
@ Vinnie You won’t see me disagreeing about 3-4-3. It’s beyond obvious that that’s the formation that suits the squad and gets the best 11 on the pitch in their best positions.
on the 6th January, 2018 at 1:21pm
Maldinis Heir; i agree on the defense, it is good enough dor both a 4 and 3 man line, but if a 3-5-2 means no suso, then I'd prefer a 3-4-3, cause our goal tally has been horrid with two attackers.

Sell and replace Kalinic, get a left wing, sell zapata, abate, paletta, antonelli, and montolivo to raise the cash for the winger. Play Silva more in rotation with a top striker. Suso and silva next to Aubameyang is obviously the dream, but...
on the 5th January, 2018 at 9:50pm
If Milan can finish 10th place with lineups with players like : Lopez - Constant - Bonera - Mexes - Antonelli - Nicerino - Essien - Ambrosini - Emmanuelson - Matri - Pazzini then how is it possible that after spending 250 mill that this team sucks ? FIRE FASSONE AND MIRABELLI ! Cut your losses, tank next season and bring up the youth to start over !
on the 5th January, 2018 at 3:31pm
@rosario what about when milan splashed bucks on bacca adriano bertolacci kucka and romagnoli.

It is a fair point berlusconi hasn't put serious money into milan for years certainly not enough to replace the likes nesta silva ibra inzaghi etc when they all left in 2012. The whole point was to have new directors with different ideas on transfer signings with money to back this is year 1 of the project it will take time to work. There really wasn't much of a team to build on
on the 4th January, 2018 at 11:41pm
They could've loaned Pjaca from Juve for the rest of the year :D
on the 4th January, 2018 at 9:26pm

How cube, you're here again. And to add value this time too, good lad.
on the 4th January, 2018 at 8:01pm
@ Rosario It's not about just spending money. You've got to have a properly targeted transfer policy. The focus should be on signing a small number of top top players rather than 12 or 13. There's only so many truly world class players in the world. Unless you can sign someone whose going to lift the squad to the next level then there's no point in signing players who are the same or just above the level of the current team. That's because every signing disrupts the squad.
on the 4th January, 2018 at 6:37pm
It seems highly likely that milan won't sign any players during this transfer window unless it is on a free transfer or loan deal. I really don't see the benefit of milan splashing cash on 1 or 2 players in a attempt to save the season without any real clear direction or plan.

Personally i would prefer milan if they have the money to sign someone like kluviert or neres or pellegri as a long term option rather than just dealing in the present.
on the 4th January, 2018 at 4:51pm
if milan lacks on the left they should have kept Kevin Constant !!
on the 4th January, 2018 at 3:15pm
@Critter. For the 1st summer since Ibra and Thiago Silva were sold, Milan actually spent some money. Before this august, it was nothing but downsizing. When a club is ambitious and wanted to compete, there will be purchases and among those will be failures and successes. R.Madrid spent in excess of a billion between their champ league win in 2001 and their recent success. I would be more worried if Milan didn't spend than actively and rightly looking to improve the squad.
on the 4th January, 2018 at 3:03pm
Yea sure buy more players, like that wasn't the problem in the first place...
on the 4th January, 2018 at 12:14pm
We don’t lack on the left or anywhere else if we play the formation that suits the majority of the players. Rodriguez, Antonelli, Calabria and Borini can all play left wing back. We also have three options for RWB with Abate, Calabria and Borini. We have 6 CBs for 3 CB positions. Rightly or wrongly the squad is built to play 3 at the back and that is the formation we should be playing rather than re-engineering the squad in January to suit the formation of a manager who won’t make February.
on the 4th January, 2018 at 11:51am
Why are we still talking about mediocre?
on the 4th January, 2018 at 10:39am
Like I said in the summer, Milan should have signed Keita Balde.
on the 4th January, 2018 at 10:20am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.