In recent times rumours have been rife about the future of Milan player Lucas Paqueta. The Brazilian has been linked with the likes of Benfica, PSG and during the January transfer window, a swap with Juventus with Federico Bernardeschi going the other way was even muted. However, what is really needed by the Rossoneri power brokers is for them to be patient with the playmaker.
Paqueta joined from Flamengo for a reported €35m in January 2019. He had only ever played at the Rio club before joining the pressure cooker at the seven times European champions who were looking to recapture their former glory. He was signed at the same time as Polish poacher Krzysztof Piatek and the duo were supposed to be the final element to take the club back to the lucrative Champions League. They finished one point off fourth place and promptly threw the baby out with the bathwater.
Since Paqueta arrived, Milan have gone through three coaches in the space of 14 months, each with different football philosophies and positions they have tried to use the Brazilian. That would be a tough ask for a more experienced player, let alone a 22-year-old in his first European club. Let’s not even mention the on-going headache of who exactly is in charge of the club, with directors chopping and changing almost as regularly as the tacticians.
Now, that is not to say that Paqueta is completely devoid of fault here. There have been times when he chose to dribble, when the better option was to pass to a teammate. His tackling at times has been rash, attested by the fact that he has garnered five bookings already this campaign, and his shooting and physicality need vast improvements. But those can be worked on when there is some stability and Paqueta has seen none of that.
Under Gennaro Gattuso, he was mainly used on the left of the midfield three, where he managed to score his only Milan goal so far, versus Cagliari in a 3-0 win. When he did get on the pitch for Marco Giampaolo, he was used as a Trequartista, central midfielder and even higher up, as the Swiss-born manager used different formations from 4-3-1-2 to 4-3-2-1 and others. When Stefano Pioli does rarely pick him, the Brazilian can be anything from a winger to central midfielder or mezz’ala, usually for about 20 minutes.
Paqueta has the skills that any team would like to have, especially one like Milan, where creativity and goals have been in short supply in recent times. He can be more than just a player that flicks the ball over the head of an unsuspecting defender, as he did against Genoa last year. He needs the right coach to mould and polish his undoubted talent. Maybe a loan move to a club like Sassuolo under the tutelage of Roberto De Zerbi may just spark the creativity that made Milan shell out such a large fee? What’s certain is that Milan would be foolhardy to sell now, as they would take a serious financial hit, something a club with Milan's current economic status can't afford to suffer.
Milan is a never-ending maelstrom, both on and off the pitch. Fans and media play their part too, because jeering Paqueta when he does get a brief cameo at San Siro cannot possibly help an already fragile player. Patience is needed with this talent and perhaps it would be wise for all concerned if he was loaned out, but definitely not sold.