Tuesday January 22 2019
Piatek risk worth taking for Milan

The jury is still out on the hype behind Krzysztof Piatek’s red-hot start to life in Italy, but Matthew Santangelo believes this can pay off for Milan.

Roughly six months ago, Milan and their passionate supporters flooded Piazza del Duomo in anticipation of the arrivals of Mattia Caldara and striker Gonzalo Higuain.

At a time of desperate need for a prolific hitman to spearhead the Rossoneri attack towards a Champions League berth, the 31-year-old Argentine was observed as the solution, the missing piece to the puzzle. The “best Milan striker since Zlatan Ibrahimovic” and a No 9 who “guarantees 15-plus goals” as many confidently declared, it appeared Gennaro Gattuso had been gifted the champion the red and black demanded in order to effectively compete for a European return.

In a matter of weeks, it has become increasingly evident Higuain’s heart was never truly committed to Milan. Instead, it was always a reunion tour with Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea to solve their own striker crisis that the Serie A record-holder for goals desired – and his wish is set to be granted.

With Pipita set for a Stamford Bridge loan move until the end of the season, and the January transfer window closing quickly, Milan sporting director Leonaro quickly identified his replacement in one of the biggest surprise packages of the 2018-19 season, Genoa’s Krzysztof Piatek.

Currently employed with a familiar business partner of the seven-time European champions in Enrico Preziosi’s Rossoblu, the 23-year-old’s new life in Italy could not have been drawn up any better, as he has 19 goals in 21 matches across all competitions – 13 of which are domestically deposited and see him in the running for the Capocannoniere title behind Cristiano Ronaldo, Duvan Zapata and Fabio Quagliarella.

Yet, as the Pole nears a reported €35m plus bonuses San Siro switch, every Milanista wonders is Piatek right, and ready, for the heavy Milan shirt?

Piatek, who scored an impressive 21 goals in 36 appearances for Cracovia in his final season in the Polish Ekstraklasa, eventually earned an under-the-radar €4m move to Marassi last summer, where he has exploded ever since.

Through 20 league matches this season, Piatek’s 13 goals equate to 52% of Genoa’s total output of 25, and he hasn’t exactly been awarded the luxury of a stable environment or a plethora of talent in support. Even with young Ivorian strike-partner Christian Kouamé playing a key role in his eruption, Piątek’s been forced to adapt to ‘calcio’ in less than ideal circumstances when you take into account the lack of supply and the constant turnover on the bench.

Davide Ballardini, Ivan Juric and now Cesare Prandelli have taken the post at Genoa this season, yet Piatek has managed to avoid the prolonged scoring droughts many newcomers succumb to in their first season in Italy at a smaller club. But that isn’t coincidental, as the Dzierżoniów-born bomber boasts a bevy of qualities that contributed to his white-hot start in Liguria.

Strength, hunger, positional sense all compounded with a clinical eye and touch within distance of goal, Piatek is equipped with most of the qualities you’d want in a No 9 - especially posing as a threat in the air (three headed goals in 2018-19) from set pieces.

Although a determined forward willing to engage in those physical encounters that often limit space and opportunity for strikers in Italy, the link-up aspect of his game is a bit rough around the edges. On the contrary, drifting into the midfield to retrieve possession, by virtue of both a reliable defence and overall supporting cast, should elicit more confidence from Piatek to contribute in ways that limit the opposition from silencing him on a given matchday.

Beyond technicalities, it doesn’t take much to establish the significant weight difference between the Genoa shirt and famous red and black of the Milan. Lump in the recent track record for strikers, along with a major fee for a key position, and you have a fanbase holding their breath.

Low supply, high demand, the market for productive forwards with a reputable body of work is dry, and this is especially true in January. Some will say Piatek’s profile isn’t compatible with golden boy Patrick Cutrone, but the fact remains if Milan wish to qualify for top four, a minimum of two strikers is required.

Without question, the jury is still out on Piatek and whether boarding his six-month hype train at a €35m fee is smart business by Milan, given the delicate nature of this position. But for sporting director Leonardo and the club to back up the truck for his services, they must truly buy into the Pole’s make-up and believe his half-season is more than a mirage. It’s either that, or just desperation.

A high, but calculated risk, Milan fans hope Piatek delivers in ways that deem him worthy of being dubbed ‘the next Robert Lewandowski.’ But, as is the case with every major investment, time will tell.

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Have your say...
@Maldini's Heir our starting XI has been relatively fixed all year tbh Gigio, Calabria Zapata AR13 RR, Kessie X Yoko, Suso Cutrone Hakan. the only thing which has disrupted this is injured which we cant do anything about. The only squad numbers which should be earnt at this club are 7, 9, 10 and 22, the rest are just numbers. If Cutrone kept 63 for his career I could care less.
on the 26th January, 2019 at 4:29pm
@ Dani All that and the only thing you picked up was my comment about the CL final! I was using the CL final to make a point. Actually the bigger issue was that Milan also failed to win the league that season because of our ever changing defence. Sure there was a lot of misfortune involved in the final but Milan still conceded three goals. The bigger point however is about teams having clearly defined starting 11s!
on the 25th January, 2019 at 11:54pm
@Maldini's Heir good comment and all but 2005 final was lost because of Stam.. really. 2005 final is one of the biggest flukes in football where one team simply had the stars aligned for 75 minutes + penalties, there's no trying to justify what happened on that day so dont even try too. You could repeat the second half of that final another 1000 times and 999 times Milan win.
on the 25th January, 2019 at 3:11pm
it did not matter. They allowed Nesta and Maldini to play as THE CB combo in every game. Stam broke that up and forced Maldini to rotate at CB and LB. Milan now have the same problem with Piatek and Cutrone. Who is THE No 9?
on the 25th January, 2019 at 1:44am
Dhorasoo and (yes) Rui Costs. These were all squad players. Nobody questioned THE midfield four. I have a theory that the reason Milan lost the 2005 Champions League final was because we signed Stam. Stam was a perfectly good CB, in fact he was too good. Because he was the same or a similar level to the other defenders he broke up the Milan defence. Milan were forced to rotate Nesta, Maldini, Stam, Cafu, Kadladze and Pancaro. Note Stam was a far better player than Kadladze and Pancaro but
on the 25th January, 2019 at 1:42am
Sure Messi is a once in the lifetime/century player but Barcelona have produced a whole group of top players. If you think back to all the great sides, the Milan sides of 80s and 90s and early 00s or the great Juve sides or Man Utd, you can still name the starting 11s. That's because those starting 11s played week-in-week-out. The great Milan midfield of Pirlo-Gattuso-Seedorf-Kaka, which rolls off the tongue with ease, didn't have like-for-like replacements. They had Brocchi, Ambrosini, Serginho
on the 25th January, 2019 at 1:37am
average of 47 games per season. That's not being rotated every second week to give a second or third choice player a chance. That is playing every single week. And it's not just Messi. It's Piqué, it's Busquets, it's Suárez, it was Pujol, Xavi and Iniesta before them. These are the players who wear 1-11, who play every single match. Unless you believe that Barcelona have access to some mystical powers, they've produced these players by backing them and playing them regularly, without question.
on the 25th January, 2019 at 1:34am
Most successful teams do not have two players of equal ability vying for the same position. That's because that disrupts a team from having a consistent line up. Some people may be surprised by Barca signing Boateng but it actually makes sense. Barca do not want a player of nearly the same ability as Messi or Suarez sitting on the bench. Messi and Suarez are their go-to-first-choice-no-questions-asked-9-and-10. Messie has been Barca's go-to-No-10 for 14 years now playing 661 games. That's an
on the 25th January, 2019 at 1:30am
I'm not sure anyone's reading these comments anymore but, for what it's worth, this debate about Piatek's number shows the issue of squad numbers is more than symbolic. Piatek asked for No 9 because he wanted to be THE No 9. But Cutrone also should be THE No 9. So we have two players who are both THE No 9. Now some people think that is a good thing. That a team should have two players vying for each position. But that's not the case at all.
on the 25th January, 2019 at 1:26am
I think that was a lucky turn of events that sent Hiugain to Chelsea!
This guy has a huge chip on his shoulder and mark my word , he will suffer in England!
The way thing are going over there, I think Sarri will not survive at Chelsea if he does not produce the results Abramovich wants!!!
He is not the first one and not the last one either!
There were better coaches then him that did not survived.
If he goes, what will Pipita do? Go to China or MLS?
on the 24th January, 2019 at 11:59pm
Genoa till now didn't pay due royalties for Piątek youth clubs, its 7 months now since last summer. AFAIK two of Polish youth clubs are in action of sending legal notices to Genoa. The amount looks funny when compared with latest transfers, when one of those youth royalties is just 80,000 Euro (unpaid).
on the 24th January, 2019 at 6:53pm
Good replacement to Pipita who my heart breaks for him and I wish him all the best with Chelsea.
Great news for the club and a good signing.
The comments on this blog is comedic.
Piatek hasn't played a single match with Milan and people calling him a flop already!
I'm sure some of us love the drama but really?
Forza Milan
on the 24th January, 2019 at 4:27am
Milan Higuain = struggle
Piatek Genoa = goals
Chelsea Higuain = goals
Milan Piatek = struggle
Milan any striker = struggle
on the 23rd January, 2019 at 10:53pm
Its a really good deal! Milan save 9 Mil on the loan, plus half of Higuain's huge salary for the remainder of the year. Piatek is young, and therefore an asset which could be kept or resold, unlike Higuain.

Higuain comes from Juve, a team who could feed him the ball well and constantly. Piatek with Genoa who like Milan, have not been the best in supporting their strikers. However Piatek continued to score. (this being just 6 months in Serie A)

Financially and tactically a good move!
on the 23rd January, 2019 at 9:58pm
I am a juve fan but I am happy Piatek has remained in serie A. If Maldini, Leornado and Boniek trust him, then u think him and Paqueta will add Milan's worth. Serie A needs strong juve, inter and Milan. We can keep our personal squabbles esp with inter as private country affairs. Inter should aslo extend icardi agmt and play Lautaro more. Get rid of Spaletti.
on the 23rd January, 2019 at 9:36pm
Glad to see Pipita has moved on. His form over the past 12 months has been below average. Piatek is a positive addition. At €35m it could prove to be a shrud purchase. Paqueta looks to have real potential. He has slotted in and hit the ground running. Next season he will be much improved. Cutrone is a good goal scorer but he lacks pace which is a worry. If Milan consolidate 4th place I'd like to see us go for Tonali, he would fit in well along side Bakayoko, Kessie and Paqueta.
on the 23rd January, 2019 at 8:08pm
@Viktor 35 million euros! Where is the money coming from? Milan will be kicked out of Europe for years. Already screwed with FFP. Will not qualify for CL either this year.
on the 23rd January, 2019 at 1:27pm
Eventhough loan expenses and salary is saved with Higuain moving on sooner or later UEFA will drop the hammer big time on Milan. Already made two big money signings in Paqueta and now Piatek (i assume it will be an obligation to buy in the summer). Even with a settlement agreement with UEFA they have to break even also accounting for their +€200m summer shopping spree last year. Im looking forward to see that.
on the 23rd January, 2019 at 10:22am
Piatek is a high but calculated risk, he's already showed a glimpse of what he's capable of doing with his raw talent and its now up to the coach to get the best out of him.

Milan has got a huge deposit of young talented players and its only a matter of time before they explode, the likes of Donna, Cutrone, Conti, Calabria, Romagnogli, and now Piatek will soon take the centre stage.

I trust Leonado, Maldini and Ivan to guide the club to its glory days.

Forza Milannnnnnn!!
on the 23rd January, 2019 at 10:13am

"slowly putting together a decent young team"

Hmm lets go over some of the starters,

Donnarumma, Conti, romagnoli, Calabria, Paqueta, Cutrone, Piatek..All under 23

Too me that sounds beyond decent and most importantly very young.
on the 23rd January, 2019 at 8:48am
Ok I've figured out what happened with the transfer window. In December Serie A chiefs announced that the deadline was going to be pushed back to the end of the month. Had that not happened then Higuain might still be at Milan! I would love to see a rule that restricts teams from signing more than 1 player in January and 3 in the summer. Also squad sizes should be capped at 25. Now time to get to know yet another Milan striker. Yeah!
on the 23rd January, 2019 at 12:30am
Milan need time to grow they are slowly but surely putting a decent young team together but its going to take time for them to be a force again. Im afraid the Milanisti got to wait some more at the very least 3 years for them to look like a contending team again.
on the 23rd January, 2019 at 12:07am
It seems like a good move, less than the fee was to buy Higuain in the summer, plus saving 9m of the second half of this season's loan and replacing a 9m salary with a 2m one. Higuain has always had some issues on the mental side and it wasn't working.

@mmmmmm clearly ridiculous to say those players are 'destroyed' even if they're not at Milan, where the team includes a large number of young players who are performing well.
on the 22nd January, 2019 at 8:57pm

In order to "stopped" a players development in their youth they actually had to become something later on.

Do you really thing SES, Niang are considered as successful players? I doubt it. Silva MAYBE yet to see, otherwise they are nothing but average.

Now lets discuss, Cutrone, Conti, Romangoli, Calabria, Donnarumma, (Locatelli).

Not manage to utilize Higuin? in orde to be utilise you need to want to be utilised, Higuain proved ZERO fighting spirit, hence hes performance.
on the 22nd January, 2019 at 7:37pm
Half season wonder is who Milan are pinning their hopes on.
on the 22nd January, 2019 at 7:26pm
Don't do it Piatek! Don't stagnate your career.
on the 22nd January, 2019 at 6:08pm
Juve fan here.

All I can say is I am glad Piatek didn't leave Serie A. Hopefully he can continue his explosive performance there. Also after Higuain leave, I hope Cutrone will permanently become first choice striker.
on the 22nd January, 2019 at 5:54pm
@viktor thanks for enlightenment grandpa. Yes you are fourth, doing well? Don't think so, and the turnover of players that's happening in Milan would imply that you are destroying players: El Sharawy, De Sciglio, Niang, Silva to name a few, all these players where considered to be top at the time. How did you manage to not utilize Higuain?!
on the 22nd January, 2019 at 5:40pm
For once i agree with maldini and vicktor. Truth is, at some point you are going to have to gamble on a player. What do you really expect milan to do? The gifted, proven players are too expensive especially in january. Cutrone will become milans icardi soon lol i have not seen a striker like that in some time. Paqueta has been decent as well. I would keep those two with romagnoli and start from there. For some reason i myself am interested to see what piatek and cutrone can accomplish up top.
on the 22nd January, 2019 at 5:19pm
I think he's a good player and will succeed at Milan
on the 22nd January, 2019 at 4:46pm

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