Friday January 10 2020
No service, No Piatek

As Milan look like already giving up on Krzysztof Piatek, Emmet Gates writes why selling the striker now would be a mistake.

What a difference a year makes. It’s 352 days since Krzysztof Piatek completed a €35m transfer from Genoa to Milan, joining in tandem with Brazilian Lucas Paqueta aiming to guide the Rossoneri into the Champions League places. Almost a full year later, and with the euphoria surrounding his signing having long since dissipated, Piatek is on the verge of a swift exit, with reports of a move to Tottenham Hotspur nearing completion.

Where did it all go so wrong for Piatek? The simplistic answer is that he’s surplus to requirements with the return of Swedish king Zlatan Ibrahimovic last week. The Pole has now slipped down the pecking order at San Siro. yet his problems at Milan started long before Ibra was even considered a viable option.

The problems aren’t with the player per se but rather issues around him, namely a club in chaos. Piatek was bought on the back of a single, exceptional half-season with Genoa, when he rifled in an absurd 13 goals in 19 games. This 23-year-old, from nowhere, had catapulted himself to the top of the Capocannoniere charts by Christmas, ahead of seasoned pros like Cristiano Ronaldo, Ciro Immobile, Edin Dzeko and Mauro Icardi.

Milan decided they wanted a piece of the Pole and handed over a large sum of money, which hindsight tells us they probably weren’t in a position to do. Now, you would like to assume that the Diavolo would’ve done their due diligence on Piatek, scouted the player and identified his strengths and weaknesses.

Had they done so, they would’ve quickly realised that he isn’t the sort of player to dribble past one or two players and place the ball majestically into the top corner. Piatek is a traditional No 9 and therefore needs service.

Service, it turned out, was in short supply. Piatek started brightly, scoring six goals in his opening seven games, but then the well ran dry. Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu, both mainstays of the Rino Gattuso era, failed in delivering the service Piatek so badly needed. 

Suso, in particular, has given off the impression of a player going through the motions at Milan for two years now. He’s drawn serious criticism from large sections of the club’s fan base for his lethargic performances and perpetually struggling to execute the same manoeuvre – cutting inside with his left foot and attempting a cross. The move has become so telegraphed now that the Spaniard resembles a lousy imitation of Arjen Robben.

Suso only provided three assists in the second half of 2018-19 and has fared even worse this season. Calhanoglu, meanwhile, has been given oceans of goodwill from Gattuso, Marco Giampaolo and now Stefano Pioli without ever vindicating the faith shown in him. A somewhat-decent first season in Italy has since given way to continual mediocrity, with the odd glimpse of the player Milan thought they were signing from Bayer Leverkusen.

The collective poor form of Suso and Calhanoglu is what has killed Piatek’s time at Milan. Starved of the service he thrives on, the 24-year-old looks like the proverbial fish out of water. Whilst he possesses average technique, he has tremendous off-the-ball movement, but what good is that without receiving it? Imagine mid-2000s Milan with Pippo Inzaghi in attack but with Kaka, Rui Costa and Andrea Pirlo suddenly turning off the taps. There wouldn’t be a sixth or seventh Champions League trophy residing in Casa Milan right now.

There is no guarantee that a 38-year-old Ibrahimovic will instantly turn things around for Pioli’s misfiring side. The underlying issues that hampered Piatek throughout his year in Rossonero are still there, a critical lack of creativity. They’ve only scored 16 goals in Serie A this season, the fourth-worst return in the League and only four goals more than rock-bottom SPAL.

The Piatek story is perhaps a tale of too much, too soon. A full season at Genoa perhaps would’ve served him, and Milan, best, to see if indeed he was the genuine article or just a half-season wonder. Yet the general dysfunction behind the scenes, culminating in a lack of synergy between CEO Ivan Gazidis and directors Paolo Maldini and Zvonimir Boban, has exacerbated the club’s on-the-field problems.

Despite that, it would be foolish to sell Piatek and perhaps a loan move would help the player to regain his mojo in front of goal. Ibra will only give the club a short-term fix and, once he moves on, or retires most feasibly, Milan will again be in the market for a centre-forward, should they sell Piatek now.

It would be a short-sighted decision but, then again, this would epitomise the current iteration of Milan. 

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Have your say...
Is it possible that Piatek's pistols celebration is too showman-like, too "I am better than everybody else" and it doesn't sit well with his team mates? A "9" like him does have to depend on other players for service. But, if they begrudge him for acting like a superstar, they won't pass him the ball. Could there be something wrong with the team work at ACM, and not with players' abilities? I'm just curious what others might think...
on the 23rd January, 2020 at 8:35am
Two games in 4-4-2 with no Suso, two wins. I expect more of the same the next 4 games vs Udinese, Brescia, Torino and Verona.
on the 17th January, 2020 at 4:08pm

Pretending? Mature? Are you serious? Why kind of cereal counseling are trying here. Again, "Theo & perhaps Bennacer are the only good things from them. Where I think Paqueta is a good signing. Just because I wrote a couple of other names doesn't mean I didn't read the post, KEEPING players is sometimes just as valuable as signing. Besides, Bonucci Caldara wasn't during Boban and Maldin while Kjaer is, so argument isn't really bullet proof. We can go on if you please.
on the 15th January, 2020 at 7:42am
@ Viktor

No, you avoided it. Be brave enough to admit that you did.

You had a go at someone after reading their original comment wrongly. OK? Understand?
You didn't "disagree" with him - you read it wrong and messed up. Quit pretending. Who are you trying to convince otherwise? Me? Yourself?

When you start being mature about admitting your mistakes, you'll be respected here.
on the 15th January, 2020 at 1:06am

"And what does "I disgrace hence my post" mean?"

So a typo was your punch line? "Disagree" I do not agree therefor my post. Ok?
And yes buddy, I believe that things are going to be good again. Brave to admit my mistake? I simple did not agree HENCE MY POST. Please don't drop your BS about mature and whatnot, its completely irrelevant to the topic.
on the 14th January, 2020 at 11:42pm
@ Viktor

No need to reply to him, yet you write out a full paragraph? lol

And what does "I disgrace hence my post" mean?

And like all Milan fans who bury their head in the sand and pretend things are going to be great again soon, you blithely ignore the fact you were told you read the original post incorrectly

And instead of being brave enough to admit your mistake, you went on again like someone else was the problem

Time for you to be more mature - then people will respect you on here.
on the 14th January, 2020 at 10:08pm

No need to reply anything of substance to you since you are clearly somewhat lost in this world. You should read 12 rules of life by Jordan Peterson or try listen to some podcast from Sam Harris or Dave Ruben.

"Theo & perhaps Bennacer are the only good things from them. "

I disgrace hence my post. I do believe Paqueta will grow for example. Caladra has been seriously injured for two years and starting to become a liability. Piatek needs to score or he can leave. Simple
on the 14th January, 2020 at 8:56am
(Cont'd) At 38 Ibra might not be able to outrun defenders, but still out muscles everyone. It's nuts. So for the next 6 months it will be a 4-4-2 with crossing coming in from the flanks with Ibra hauling it down for others to shoot or cracking a shot/header himself. Not contemporary glamour football, but perhaps enough to get the club back to the EL at least. Then we can worry about the champagne playmaker in the summer. Right now ACM is 10 points off the CL. Good riddance to Suso.
on the 13th January, 2020 at 8:21pm
(Cont'd) Anyone watching the Cagliari game saw EXACTLY that. It's actually one of the more precise tactical executions from Milan in recent memory. Leao scored a goal, Ibrahimovic scored a goal, and then almost got two more with headers (one offside and one off the bar). This is against a team that was in 6th place. Even against Sampdoria Milan had opportunities to win the game after Ibra and Leao came on, with the former setting up the latter twice and Leao missing a basically open goal. Cont'd
on the 13th January, 2020 at 8:14pm
I think being a director at Milan at this point in time must be incredibly hard. If Suso and Calhanoglu had been sold in the summer they'd get blamed for chopping and changing. Now that it's obvious that the club has no creativity they're going to do something about it. Step 1 was to bring in a target man, i.e. Ibra, to allow the club to use the other tools at its disposal, namely more traditional wing play. Ibra is there to win the ball in the air and knock it down for Leao or score. Cont'd...
on the 13th January, 2020 at 8:07pm

Hahahahaha read the post before replying, Clown. Hahahahahahaha.....
on the 13th January, 2020 at 12:47pm

As Sanjay said, read the post first before replying.

You got it all wrong - just like Milan keep doing lol
on the 13th January, 2020 at 11:18am

I think that you need to read posts more carefully before you rush to post your replies, because you're embarrassing yourself.

Observer was opining that Theo and Bennacer are the only good signings made by Boban-Maldini, with the rest - including coaches - being disasters.

You may well disagree, but weren't all the players that you listed already at Milan before Boban and Maldini became directors? (Therefore, irrelevant to the point that Observer is making.)
on the 12th January, 2020 at 2:35pm

Bitter about our away win are we? Pathetic.
on the 12th January, 2020 at 9:50am
Hahahaha what a joke. What were Maldini-Boban thinking when they contact Ibra for Milan return? Piatek will gladly accept his new role as Ibra's sub? What a joke. This mediocre club never stop upset their pathetic fans with stupid management, as Caldara and Cutrone have gone for almost nothing, Donnarrumma, Romagnolli, Kessie are on the list. Poor Milan fans. Hahahaha....
on the 12th January, 2020 at 8:26am

Yes Donnarumma, Romangoli, Calabria,conti, are all useless.

Soccer much?
on the 11th January, 2020 at 8:32pm
Seriously Milan? Threw away Piatek and Caldara just like that, both are still very young and unfairly judged. Got bonucci for 45m, then traded him back to Juve for Caldara. Now sell him to atalanta with only 15m option to buy, shocking. Even worse they took useless Kjaer in return.

I don't even support Milan, but really enough is enough. Maldini-Boban are even worse than Fassone-Mirabelli. Theo & perhaps Bennacer are the only good things from them. The rest are disaster, including the coaches.
on the 11th January, 2020 at 4:09pm
The biggest mistake Milan made was selling Cutrone and making this donkey the no.1 Striker. What a mess, what a failure. The joke of Milan justs get worse and worse and goes on and on.
on the 11th January, 2020 at 2:47pm
Ac Milan should have a sabbatical leave from any transfer dealings. Period. What a shambles. Uefa should have handed a ban on Milan after the atrocities involving Xi Dong & Elliot fund. Milan should have been declared bankrupt! But like any poor soul decided to begged for a Serie A stay rather than start anew with a new owner, new environment, and a new atmosphere, someone in Serie C. Then elect Marco Branca to turn the club to its former height.
on the 11th January, 2020 at 12:00pm
Maldini has no clue as a director. He plans to change transfer strategy and the team every 6 months. I plan more in computer games in Manager mode than what he is doing as a director. Sold talented players like Locatelli, Caldara, Cutrone and now Piatek while talking big about having a youth plan for the team. Now bringing in duds like Kjaer. Milan needs to fire Maldini as soon as possible or give a non-working director role.
on the 11th January, 2020 at 2:49am
If he's sold he'll probably be just another victim of what has to one of the worst-run clubs in the world.

Remember when Milan were packed with top players, and more importantly, top professionals?

I'd keep Piantek. Ibra is a short-term gimmick for easily distracted fans and nothing more.

Orsolini might bring something more to their attack. Offload Suso and go for him for starters. They need a few proper midfielders too.
on the 11th January, 2020 at 2:00am
K. Piątek in Genoa scored under Ballardini (in every match!), didn't score under Juric (just once against Sampdoria in 7 matches bar 2 goals + penalty in Coppa against Entella), then scored again under Prandelli (3 goals in 5 matches)- that also says things about tacticians role.
on the 10th January, 2020 at 10:24pm
K. Piątek scored 11 goals for Milan in 1-st half of 2019 (9 in Serie A and 2 in Coppa), adding 4 next season, so he solemnly earned 38M € paid for him. Before Genoa, he scored 21 and 4 assist in his 2016/17 ligue appearances, so he was not a man from nowhere.
Milan handling of strikers is pathetic, latest examples are Cutrone and Higuain.
on the 10th January, 2020 at 10:23pm
I’ve always said it - Milan’s issues aren’t with the strikers. They are with the lack of quality/dependable attacking midfield/playmakers. I mean, CR7 or Messi couldn’t score with this team. Leave Piatek alone and get playmakers in. Surely, even Maldini and Boban can figure that out.
on the 10th January, 2020 at 10:14pm
the cancer that is Milan claims another talented victim.they went out and snatched up this great young player that was on fire at a bottom half team for big bucks,comes to milan and makes immediate impact.then slowly falls into the milan rut. Piatek is actually lucky and deserves better than Milan. i wish one the top 5 italian teams took him instead of losing him to the Premiership.
watching AC Milan season after season sink lower,and f'up everytime is like watching a train wreck reality show.
on the 10th January, 2020 at 10:02pm
Milan's January transfer window is a total mess! I'm shocked. Shipping talented players like Piatek and Caldara for a loss without really giving them a chance while the players who have been at the club for a long time and have failed miserably remain, namely Calhanoglu, Suso and Castillejo. Paqueta will be the next to go before we know his full potential.

This is a sad time to be a Milan supporter.
on the 10th January, 2020 at 6:25pm
Milan didn’t make Champions League places last year...
on the 10th January, 2020 at 4:23pm

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