The pieces are finally beginning to fall into place at Milan, with an official announcement from the club on Friday to confirm the roles of Paolo Maldini and Zvonimir Boban.
Less than 24 hours later, Sampdoria confirmed the mutual termination of Marco Giampaolo’s contract, freeing the Italian tactician to take charge of the Rossoneri, as suggested by Calciomercato.
With a month or so to go until the squad reconvene for pre-season training, there is little doubt that there has already been plenty of planning behind the scenes in anticipation of the moves noted above.
That is reflected in the touted transfer targets that Milan are considering, with widespread speculation noting that the midfield appears to be the main focus of our attention.
That’s hardly surprising considering Tiemoue Bakayoko, Riccardo Montolivo, Andrea Bertolacci and Jose Mauri are all set to leave this summer, leaving that department in real need of strengthening both in terms of adding quality and depth.
As noted by MilanNews.it, via the paper edition of Tuttosport, there are a group of names that continue to reappear in the gossip columns, and those are Lucas Torreira, Stefano Sensi, Jordan Veretout and Dennis Praet.
Meanwhile, it’s noted by La Gazzetta dello Sport that we’ve already secured the signing of Rade Krunic from Empoli in a deal potentially worth €8m plus bonuses.
Giampaolo’s tactics and style of play
Looking at the statistics and figures of the players named above from last season, nothing particularly stands out in terms of their contribution in the final third as they’ve all been productive and efficient, and so it’s easy to see why some may consider them underwhelming potential signings.
However, taking into consideration Giampaolo’s preference for a 4-3-1-2 system and the playing style which looks to play quicker, sharper passes in well-drilled combinations to build up play and implement an effective yet attacking brand of football, he needs a certain type of midfielder.
That’s where all the names above fit in, as they are all technically sound, comfortable in possession and have the ability to dictate a game in that midfield area while also having the energy and tenacity to press high and put the opposition under pressure, all ideals of Giampaolo’s way of playing the game.
Sadly, that is something Milan have lacked for many years and while that’s not to suggest that the names above are world-class and a huge jump up in quality, they offer a different dynamic which is going to be so crucial for Giampaolo’s ideas and strategy to work, with FFP limitations in mind too.
While Lucas Biglia has offered experience and composure in front of the defence and Bakayoko’s steeliness and physicality made a significant difference when he broke into the side last season, Milan still looked short of having that bit of class needed to go up against top sides and dominate to stamp their authority on games.
Not to mention the countless occasions Franck Kessie did all the hard work only to let himself down in the final third, and the lengthy periods of last season under Gennaro Gattuso where we looked entirely devoid of ideas on how to break sides down.
Out of the five mentioned above, Krunic had the best return last season in terms of goals and assists with five and six respectively. With that in mind, while we shouldn’t expect game-changing additions, these are potentially astute signings who fit Giampaolo’s vision and could in turn help us develop an identity, play attractive football and importantly, pair that with positive results as a collective rather than solely relying on individuals to produce moments of quality.