NEWS
Saturday February 2 2019
Gattuso: 'Bakayoko key, Paqueta surprise'

Gennaro Gattuso warned Milan not to underestimate Roma, while praising Tiemoue Bakayoko, Lucas Paquetá and Krzysztof Piatek.

It kicks off on Sunday at 19.30 GMT, click here for a match preview.

“Roma might not be going through a good period of form, but they are still a very strong team, they score many goals from set plays, are one of the most prolific in Serie A, so we need to be wary. It’s going to be very difficult,” said the Coach in his Press conference.

“They’ve got talented players and a Coach who has been working very well for years now. We’ve got to be very, very careful.”

It’s a reunion for Gattuso with Roma trequartista Nicolò Zaniolo.

“I did see him a few times when I was the Coach of the Milan Primavera youth team and you could tell he had quality. At this moment, he is one of the most promising talents in Italian football, but it’s important to keep him on track.”

Milan seem to have been transformed in recent weeks, knocking Napoli out of the Coppa Italia with a 2-0 victory, so what has changed?

“I said before Frosinone that we had to still be up there in the Spring, because if you look over the last seven or eight years, Milan have never been in the running for a Champions League spot come Spring.

“We’ve got to continue with this humility and think about the team. If someone is sulking because he doesn’t get to play, he’s got to think about the team instead.

“I know full well that a couple of bad results and people will start calling me incompetent again. They even tore Carlo Ancelotti apart, imagine that… I don’t need people to compliment me, I just focus on my work and have to ensure the team is with me. At this moment, we are combining good fitness levels with enthusiasm and want to keep that going.

“Every match will be important from now on. Roma have incredible players on paper, we’ve got to ensure we remember that and are ready, because playing Roma is never easy, even if they are struggling right now.

“Milan have certainly been reinforced over the window, but that’s also because Lucas Biglia and Mattia Caldara are coming closer to recovery.”

Piatek made an extraordinary impact following his €35m move from Genoa, scoring a brace on his fully debut, while Paquetá has started every competitive match since his arrival from Flamengo.

“When you play in a team, there is a specific organisation, but with some strikers you do need to let them follow their instinct. When it comes to pressing and defending, organisation is important, but going forward we can give more freedom to the players.

“Piatek already had five months of Serie A football with Genoa in which he scored with practically every touch, so he was no surprise.

“Paquetá is a surprise, because he is ready for European football straight away. He soaks up information like a sponge, is very curious about tactics and wants to be informed on everything. He’s not a typical Brazilian player.”

Gattuso was asked if Piatek and Patrick Cutrone can play together.

“You have to look at the characteristics of the players. I think that they can play together, but then we have to decide if we want a three-man midfield and how much running they’ll have to do to cover the gaps.

“It’s not that I don’t like two strikers together. At this moment, I have to consider what is most functional for the team. I am sad to leave Cutrone out for a few games too, but I have to consider how to get the best out of the team right now.”

Bakayoko is on loan from Chelsea with option to buy, but Gattuso made clear his intentions.

“At this moment, we cannot do without Bakayoko. If we have the possibility of keeping him, then we absolutely must do so, but I am not the one in charge of the purse strings and cannot talk about that. All I know is Bakayoko can become a fundamental player in the future of Milan.”

The Rossoneri spent €70m during the January transfer window, but did not bring in the winger Gattuso asked for.

“Nothing arrived, so no point asking me. I already said, we would only bring in a winger if he could give us a significant step up in quality. We didn’t find anyone who fit the bill, so we stayed as we were.”

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