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Thursday April 29 2021
Belotti, Vlahovic and Milan's endless striker search

Zlatan Ibrahimović has signed a new contract with Milan, but the search for a long-term solution up front continues into the summer, writes Matthew Santangelo.

Milan’s run of bad luck in finding a legitimate candidate to lead the front line needs no further mention. The names? We all know of them. Their struggles? Well documented and nightmare inducing.

After the failed Krzysztof Piatek experiment, Milan reeled in Zlatan Ibrahimovic for a second term in hopes of not only providing this new, vibrant young project a face and veteran presence. The deadly talisman has just signed a one-year contract extension, but there is no denying Milan’s urgent need to find that prolific number nine to see them into the next phase of the project.

Since returning to the San Siro, Ibrahimovic has been nothing short of brilliant, bagging 25 goals in 35 appearances as both a reference point and remedy for troubled attack lacking production.

Among the names topping Paolo Maldini and Frederic Massara’s list for a move to the fashion capital of the world are Torino’s Andrea Belotti and Fiorentina’s Dušan Vlahović.

The 27-year-old Italy international has been linked in previous years to a move up north, most notably in 2017 when former directors Massimiliano Mirabelli and Marco Fassone lodged a substantial player plus cash offer to Urbano Cairo for his services.

Of course, the Rossoneri’s attempt to pry the young Azzurri bomber away from Turin and fulfill his presumable desire to don the famous shirt came up short. Times have changed, however.

Belotti’s crept up in age, Torino are hanging on by a thread in the relegation battle. There is a strong probability that he will not renew his contract expiring in 2022, all factors that may be used as leverage for Maldini in any potential negotiation.

Then there is Vlahović, the athletic Serbian who has erupted for the Viola in a big way this season. In 31 appearances, the 21 year old has posted a strong 16 goals and 2 assists for a side that continues to underachieve relative to their collective quality.

Although the former Partizan standout’s contract is set to expire in 2023, but there is a growing concern in Fiorentina’s camp that he may not be willing to commit long-term to a club that can neither find the right coach nor direction to compete.

From Milan’s perspective, both Belotti and Vlahović would prove to be proper fits. In many ways, the two share similar profiles with the ability to link play, work off the ball and finish within striking distance.

Italy’s second choice is a bit older than most of the signings walking through the doors of Milanello these days, but his track record, longevity in the top flight, and consistency in an otherwise inconsistent side feels like less of a risk.

While he is entering his peak and may not be able to reach the 25+ goal mark from a few seasons ago, the right project could see Belotti build further on his sneaky impressive 12 goals and five assists in the current campaign.

In addition to his boyhood fandom for Milan works to their advantage, the asking price from Cairo which, unlike in the past, would presumably be much friendlier than Vlahović who Rocco Commisso is likely to demand no less than €40m to release. If Milan do identify Vlahović as their primary option to play under idol Ibrahimović, perhaps they structure their offer similar to what Juventus did for Federico Chiesa, a loan with staggered payments of the fee over multiple years.

Milan will go back to the well for a striker this summer, and this individual bears a heavy burden to break an ongoing curse. This candidate must not only score, but understand the weight and significance of the shirt they pull on. Establishing the right successor for Ibrahimovic will be a challenge, and one that must be fully embraced.

@Matt_Santangelo

Have your say...
Please sign Vlahovic. No to Belotti. Vlahovic is the perfect modern striker and would flourish. Ibra will back him up. Add a starting RW like Ikone from Lille and our attack is set.
on the 10th May, 2021 at 4:03am
I hope we sign Belotti. Ibra and Belotti would be an amazing front line. I agree with Milan Fan, there does need to be a couple of first team additions to actually create meaningful attacks Belotti alone would not be enough to get us out of a CL group. We need a creative midfielder and a couplenof wingers that are actually able to run.
on the 30th April, 2021 at 5:59am
(Cont'd) As for central defense if Tomori isn't redeemed then it will be Romagnoli and Kjaer paired up again. Problem is Romagnoli is expiring in 22 and if his king's ransom won't be met then you have to ask why we wouldn't just start Gabbia for development/experience. While he may turn out to be a great defender, I'm not sure it will be next season, so it will be a net step backwards in quality next season. Same for Calha's position. The team is in an awkward spot...
on the 29th April, 2021 at 2:01pm
@Maldini, yes tough spot. If we finish outside top 4 I'm 50/50 on calling for a change at manager. Part of me wants to break the trend of the manager carousel and give him his last contract year to prove forward progress. Even if we finish 5th it will be an improvement on last season points-wise. However, if we lose Gigio because we don't qualify for the LC it's like 10 points walking out the door. Cont'd...
on the 29th April, 2021 at 1:57pm
playing out exactly the same way as his previous stints at Inter and Lazio (which is also a really random phenomenon). Having said that he should be rewarded for last year when we were the best team by form. There’s no guarantee the next guy will get us to the champions league unless we rehire Allegri or get Conte.
on the 29th April, 2021 at 1:08am
work out well. They probably should’ve “reinvested” in an experienced manager. Inter will win the tittle this season because they hired Conte who almost guarantees tittles (and a poor run in Europe for some unknown reason). In football very few things make sense including Milan’s sudden drop in form.

@ Vero Rossonero Sure we might lose our loan signings but we also have a ton of players out on loan including Caldara. I’m not far off calling for a change of manager given how this seems to be
on the 29th April, 2021 at 1:04am
@ Inter The squad was literally in the top 4 for most of the season. That’s not speculation it’s a fact. Football comes down to inches. I agree there’s question marks over whether we’ll be able to retain some players but if we can’t we’ll have to focus on reinforcing those areas. The key will be to make as few changes as possible. If that’s our aim then I’m on board. Other teams might reinvest but there’s no guarantee said reinvestment will work. Juve “reinvested” in Ronaldo and that didn’t
on the 29th April, 2021 at 1:00am
It’s not over Milan fans. I could be wrong. But one of Milan juve and Atalanta will miss out, Napoli should win majority of their games with an easier (nothing is easy in serie a) run home. Juve playing inter after we will have won the league is an advantage as tired players will likely rest. But let’s hope we can continue winning. If you can stay within a couple of points of Atalanta you could take it to the last match day. Viktor - seeing Bennacers terrible performance - still believe in him?
on the 28th April, 2021 at 10:49pm
@vero - I disagree - might be going back a bit further but we had an average manager pioli, a squad with lots of youth (who we hoped would be promising and werent), a few oldies and fans who thought the team was a lot better than it was. We hoped for top 4 but in retrospect not ready. Now look at us. to We only got into real financial difficulty because of COVID, suning did an amazing job turning our finances around. Can’t blame them for COVID destroying their hard work. Now the recovery begins
on the 28th April, 2021 at 10:45pm
@Inter- We're not where you were 5 years ago. And I hope to not be where you are now in 5 years, under soul crushing debt. In 5 years (or sooner rather) I want to be where Atalanta is now plus 11 points.
on the 28th April, 2021 at 6:13pm
@Maldini- Without CL money it's hard to envision Milan paying 28m for Tomori. Then Romagnoli has one year remaining and is asking for 6m per year AND lost his starting spot to Tomori. I call this a mess. I am loathe to call for a change on the bench at this point, even if we don't finish in the top 4, but the slide we've seen this calendar year is alarming. Pioli's teams have done this before. It's a tough spot to be in. Let's see what happens over the last 5 games...
on the 28th April, 2021 at 6:09pm
CL is still possible but VERY difficult, because we now need to do better than Juve and Napoli in our remaining games, and judging by our current form and the fact that we have a number of difficult games coming up, it seems very unlikely. Anyway, if we don't get into CL we will probably go for a super low cost striker, if we get one at all. In any case we need to change things up front because the goals just aren't coming. And equally something is wrong defensively as we keep leaking goals.
on the 28th April, 2021 at 1:10pm
@Inter Its not over yet.
on the 28th April, 2021 at 12:37pm
None of them would really work in this current Milan side. Even Lewandowski won't do half the things he's doing for Bayern in Milan. The problem is the players who play behind the striker. Quality is short and if you can't give quality service to the striker then you are doomed.
Zlatan is the best option because he is a rare breed. He is basically a striker, playmaker and leader all into one. He comes short and assist goals just as well as scoring them. He is good in both aerial and ground play.
on the 28th April, 2021 at 9:38am
What can I say about this Milan??? They are TRASH! It's funny to see an idiot Milan fan called Viktor thought this trash can be in CL next season. Hahahaha..
on the 28th April, 2021 at 7:51am
Even rano (although he prob wouldn’t come as very loyal) They are now bit part players for us if even that once we reinforce the bench - you could offer them starting spots and it would bring a massive upgrade in talent compared to what you have. Use inter as the model - you guys are roughly where we were 5 years ago. Bit of hard work, some luck, def also a new manager, you will slowly get there.
on the 27th April, 2021 at 10:14pm
Maldini heir - I know you don’t agree with transfers but the squad is not good enough for top 4. You said it yourself when you were 2nd - that being there it meant you had the 2nd best squad in Italy no debating it, well I guess that’s also true now, you have 5th best (likely to finish 6th). Not going to make CL next season when teams with stronger squads also reinvest and buy players. Problem is Milan don’t have any money - said it before, I’d look at inters bench players like vicino or gags.
on the 27th April, 2021 at 10:10pm
Yep will be neither, ibra signing on again was your striker I think. Still need to pay for tonali (considering his poor impact you would wonder if this might be a way to save some money) and replace both donna and calhanoglu. Defense also needs work. Tomori will be going back to Chelsea no way there’s funds for him. I actually think Milan played better when they had the so called “second string” players on. Maybe give them more of a run.
on the 27th April, 2021 at 10:06pm
@ Vero Rossonero There’s no mess. We need to remain calm. If we miss out it’ll be by a few points. So we’re close. The key will be to try and keep as many players as possible. If Donnarumma leaves so be it but it does force us to find a keeper. Tomori didn’t go from being awesome to awful because of one match so we have CBs. The key will be to sign a CF and to use Leao on the wing which is clearly his strongest position.
on the 27th April, 2021 at 8:57pm
Given the disaster that is unfolding in the table, I think it will be Belotti, because he will be cheaper, or possibly neither. I can't see this club spending 40m on Vlahovic with all the other holes needing to be filled without Champions League money. Gigio will walk (if he doesn't anyway) and so will Calhanoglu (maybe for the better). Then there is RW and the mess at CB to sort out. So if we miss on the CL I suspect we won't see another striker come in.
on the 27th April, 2021 at 1:37pm
It doesn't really matter what happens in the last few games, this is still the same Milan that by form were the best team in 2020 and have been top for most of this season. So they'e obviously close. It's going to come down to inches at the end but if we fail by a few inches there's no need to start again.....again.....again...Keep the core of the side and add a striker. That would've added a few key points this season.
on the 27th April, 2021 at 10:14am
Just wanted to stop by and congratulate Juve and Milan on yet another brillant set of performances.

This has been a great week for both clubs. especially Juve.

I believe as of now theyre stll in the Super League, ha ha ha.

MOTM has to be Tomori aka The Man Marking King, and the 31 million euros a week CR7, aka the ice cold finisher.

More like hit and miss, dont care about this club CR7.

Scudetto for Inter

Let the peasants fight it out for CL.

I Miss Marco Branca sobbing somewehere.
on the 27th April, 2021 at 8:02am
Nightmare result for Milan this morning. Champions league almost impossible now with their current form and run of games left. Will be no money for a striker, pioli will be gone, same with Donna and calhanoglu, I wonder whether they will look for creative options like swapping players or something like this might be an option. Cashing in on players like Bennacer and Theo who showed potential early but likely to be flash in the pan types
on the 26th April, 2021 at 10:39pm
end of the season will be crucial to milans striker search. cant see milan having money or either without CL. top4 seems very unlikely now. anything less than a win v lazio will be a clear sign. not looking good for milans future
on the 26th April, 2021 at 1:45am
@ Vero Rossonero Milan seem to be holding out for a big payment from the other clubs who quit but since the whole thing was probably illegal (effectively it was a cartel) then good luck to them trying to enforce the agreement! I would say it’s a further example of the incompetence at the top.
on the 25th April, 2021 at 10:31pm
"The 27-year-old Italy international has been linked in previous years to a move up north..." -Dude, Torino IS in the north. Anyway, what's the point in discussing the future right now since Milan hasn't officially left the ESL and is inviting sanctions (think banning from Europe) from UEFA. If we get banned from European competition it would wipe out the hard work of the last 18 months which seems set to finally end an eight year nightmare absence from the ECL. It would be such a shame.f
on the 25th April, 2021 at 5:00pm
If there's anyone who can't see that Vlahovic is the new & upcoming superstar striker in the world of football, he/she is blind! Although very good and consistent, there's no way Belotti can match up with Vlahovic's potential. Let's not remember that more 1/3 of his goals are coming from penalties, so if he can score anything more than 10, it'll be a success! Whilst Vlahovic is that player who an surely go 20+ goals each season! Now, if you want that, you gotta pay. Chiesa's model is perfect!
on the 24th April, 2021 at 5:46pm
They only have one season to find and acclimatize a new striker under Ibra, because the Swede won't renew after '22. And at that time they will need to find yet another striker to replace Ibra. Milan's work is cut out for them. Hope they don't eff it up.
on the 24th April, 2021 at 3:05pm
Either would be good. Belotti is a known quantity and would be a safe signing. Depends on his price though, as he's not getting any younger. Vlahović on the other hand could turn out to be a flash in the pan like Piatek, so I'd be loathe to spend 40 million on him. I haven't watched Fiorentina except for when they play us, and some highlights, but Vlahović does seem pretty impressive and I think he could do well for us, but he'd still be a gamble. But I'd be happy with either for the right price
on the 24th April, 2021 at 9:34am
I think my preference would be Belotti but I’m coming round to the idea of Vlahovic. The key will be to give them game time and breathing space with Ibra staying for another season. I’m obviously delighted that Ibra has renewed but there does need to be a clear plan for transitioning.
on the 23rd April, 2021 at 9:58pm

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