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Friday February 9 2018
Kessie is carrying Milan

Gennaro Gattuso’s hard-nosed personality and motivation have brushed off on Franck Kessie, the driving force of Milan, writes Matthew Santangelo.

Fresh off a splendid season in Bergamo for Atalanta, who snuck into fourth place on the final match-day of the 2016-17 season, Franck Kessie was hot property on the market.

At one point last year, the Ivorian was courted by the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, but in the end Milan’s ambition and substantial offer convinced him to make the San Siro switch.

Few of the new arrivals matched the hype surrounding Kessie last summer, not only for his profile, but the increasing demand in the modern game for a box-to-box presence with qualities that loom large over the course of a long season.

Immediately, his strength, energy on both ends of the pitch and solidity filled a void the Rossoneri have longed to plug since Gennaro Gattuso and Mark van Bommel roamed the centrocampo several years ago.

While most understood Kessie had much to improve upon in the technical aspects of his game, the sizable €28m investment would still pay dividends in year one of this new project.

Early on in the season and throughout the Europa League group stage qualifying rounds, Kessie’s disruptive qualities were a breath of fresh air in Vincenzo Montella’s starting XI. From the beginning, he was every bit as advertised and on a regular basis, his marauding runs enabled the others in the midfield to keep things simple.

Several victories to begin the 2017-18 campaign garnered plenty of intrigue, but with every buyer of the Rossoneri dream, there was an equally skeptic seller who wasn’t convinced these wins over provincial sides portrayed the true quality of the side.

Along with Leonardo Bonucci, Nikola Kalinic and Hakan Calhanoglu, Kessie was one whose performances came back down to earth, and this effect trickled down the entire squad. Eventually, Montella was shown the door in an attempt to salvage something from this season, and since Gattuso stepped in to take the reins, we’ve seen a complete shift in the level of play.

The World Cup winner had much to prove beyond the ‘grinta’ and passion displayed during his playing days. However, it has been these two traits, among other things, that have allowed the fierce Italian Coach to help several in the side elevate their game and channel the qualities Milan shelled out for.

It goes without saying, Franck Kessie has been the main beneficiary of Gattuso’s tutelage, and his form from September through December pales in comparison to what we see now.

Each weekend, the former central defender can be found busting up play, posing as an unbreakable force and a ball carrier in the final third that is quite difficult to contain.

Impressive displays against Inter in the Coppa Italia over 120 minutes and the doubling of his account in the win over Cagliari accurately depict who he is and the mark he can leave on a game.

Beyond that, Kessie is also shouldering quite the workload for Milan, having tallied the most minutes by an outfield player in the Italian top-flight.

In many ways, this has been a blessing for Milan, who have needed every minute of him this year, but there is concern amongst supporters about whether Kessie can avoid getting burnt out. It’s something Gattuso must certainly have on his mind, especially with his club currently competing on three fronts.

Kessie’s been living up to the early season hype bestowed upon him by elevating his game and acting as the driving force in the midfield for a team that still has plenty to strive for. It’s easy to forget he only turned 21 in December. Imagine when he’ll have experience too.

Have your say...
"It’s easy to forget he only turned 21 in December."

Apparently even easier to forget how he failed his Milan medical for not actually being 20 years old.
on the 10th February, 2018 at 7:27pm
Good point Paolo
It just seem like no one is observant in the club. Milan have always heard quality midfielders in excess, and what i'll say has been our strength. Once a team can see to it that the middle of d pack is well equipped, it will tell on both d defense n attack.

Until we sign d highest quality in the midfield n immediately reinforce the position with adequate replacement on d bench too, NO SHOW

Kessie is good but I conceed watching him this season that he is young n still growing.
on the 10th February, 2018 at 7:30am
He has the makings of a fine midfielder.

He's improved since Gattuso's arrival. Conte might make him a great.
on the 10th February, 2018 at 1:32am
nobody is blocking locatelli but himself. he has played terrible football this year.
Silva is clearly behind kalinic as of late because even with his skillset, he plays like he is alone all the time.

regarding Cristante, less than 6 months ago we were all saying how good galliani did when he sold cristante to buy bonaventura inmediately.
on the 9th February, 2018 at 10:13pm
Cutrone is already a fine attacker, he just needs more playing time. Kessie with no doubt is the best signing in years. @ Calcio Cup: couldn't agree more with you, Monty in particular is a hindrance.

I will never understand why Milan paid a fortune in Bigilia! At most, he has two years left to play at Serie A level. Not to mention that he's blocking Locatelli. We don't want to lose him the way we lost Cristante.
on the 9th February, 2018 at 9:52pm
Cutrone should start every match alongside Silva. This nonsense in Milan with playing Kalinic is getting old.
on the 9th February, 2018 at 5:59pm
Continued: NONE of them are Milan quality, and if he remains stubborn in that regard, the same thing that happen to Montella, will happen to him. He NEEDS to give the likes of Silva&Cutrone to build an understanding between them, while allowing the creative talents of Hakan, Bona, Suso to develop while nurturing Locatelli, who I believe could be great for Milan AND Italia!
on the 9th February, 2018 at 1:34pm
The great advantage Kessie has had is that he has PLAYED consistently since the season started....All the other new signings, have either been injured(Biglia), had not played much last season(Hakan) etc....Kessi is just the type of player Milan needed: A box to box midfielder who could do everything! Now, that the other new signings are acclimatizing themselves to Milan/Serie A, the team is starting to gel, HOWEVER, Gattuso needs to STOP using people like Kalinic, Borini, Montolivo!
on the 9th February, 2018 at 1:31pm
utterly misleading tittle

I certainly consider that he is potentially carrying the midfield the majority of the season with the likes of biglia locatelli calhanglu montolivo lack of pace being a obvious factor I would include bonnaventura but he makes up for his lack of pace with good positioning technical ability and work rate. I still don't get whey in a summer of spending Milan neglected to buy another box to box midfield player or a pacey winger instead buying centre forwards.
on the 9th February, 2018 at 10:11am

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