It’s been a difficult season for Hakan Calhanoglu on and off the pitch, but the Milan playmaker now faces a crucial few months to cement his long-term future at San Siro.
The relief was etched all over the 25-year-old’s face as he celebrated with coach Gennaro Gattuso after scoring in our 3-1 win over Atalanta last weekend.
Gattuso has offered unwavering support for the Turkish ace, consistently reiterating to the media that Calhanoglu would be going nowhere for as long as he’s in charge.
Speculation was rife in January that the former Bayer Leverkusen star could move on, but as noted by Calciomercato, Calhanoglu himself dismissed those reports and insisted that he’s happy in Milan.
Given the direction in which the club is going though, with the potential of a significant transfer budget this summer if we qualify for the Champions League, happiness isn’t going to be enough to secure a long-term future.
It’s a widely shared opinion that the Rossoneri need to add quality and depth in the wide positions, taking the responsibility off Suso’s shoulders while adding a different dynamic with a pacy, direct winger on the left flank.
In Calhanoglu’s defence, playing out on the left wing is clearly not his most natural role, and he should be commended for continuing to persevere and work hard for his teammates even when things aren’t going well for him in the final third.
Saturday’s goal in Bergamo was his first of the season in Serie A, as he now has two goals and 11 assists in 30 appearances across all competitions. He did it in style with his long-range effort, and it’s hoped that now gives him the confidence and belief required to build on it and end the season on a real high, both on an individual level and collectively.
?Çalhanoğlu’nun Atalanta’ya sapladığı “Allah ne verdiyse” füzesi! pic.twitter.com/mU4aRueODc
— Sp⚽️rtnik (@SportnikTurkey) February 16, 2019
The pressure is certainly on both in the short term and long term though. Lucas Paqueta and Giacomo Bonaventura will provide stiff competition for a starting berth next season, while if we do sign a winger this summer, it leaves Gattuso with decisions to make.
Naturally, it’s hoped that we do need a deep squad if we secure a return to the Champions League, but in order to dismiss the exit talk and prove that he’s more than capable of being the creative spark that Milan need him to be, these are now three big months in Calhanoglu’s career.
Admittedly, there is a personal soft spot for the Turkish international and many others are desperate to see him flourish for the Rossoneri.
However, that can only last so long and with growing ambitions and a need for players who consistently deliver at the highest level, Milan may be moving forward and could leave Calhanoglu behind if he doesn’t continue to produce the goods and really stamp his mark on the team between now and the end of the season.