Milan are expected to announce our first summer signing this week, as Rade Krunic is set to join us after an impressive stint with Empoli.
As noted by MilanNews.it, the 25-year-old underwent his medical and signed his contract on Tuesday, and while we await confirmation of our new coach, it’s likely that the Bosnian international will be unveiled too.
One of the key areas which needs to be addressed this summer is the midfield, particularly given Tiemoue Bakayoko has returned to Chelsea with his loan deal coming to an end, while Riccardo Montolivo, Andrea Bertolacci and Jose Mauri will all depart due to expiring contracts.
That in turn leaves the Rossoneri dangerously short in that department, with Lucas Biglia, Franck Kessie, Giacomo Bonaventura, Hakan Calhanoglu and Lucas Paqueta the available options remaining to the new coach, with Goal.com noting that Marco Giampaolo is expected to be named as Gennaro Gattuso’s successor this week.
If we were to look at the Italian tactician’s preferred style of play and system at his old clubs, he has a track record of adopting a 4-3-1-2, and promotes quicker, sharper, well-drilled passing combinations to play an expansive and attacking brand of football from back to front.
With that in mind, he needs midfielders who are technically sound, comfortable and composed in possession and can offer tenacity and energy off the ball too.
Those leaving in the clear-out seemingly don’t fit that mould anyway, while there is arguably a slight imbalance with the individuals who remain as several of them prefer playing in more advanced roles given their attacking qualities.
More importantly, he needs midfielders to not only add depth but fit his ideas, and he should get that from the first new arrival.
So what can we expect from Krunic?
The first thing to note is that the deal will cost us €8m plus bonuses, as per Calciomercato.
For an established 25-year-old with significant experience in Serie A and with 10 international caps to his name coupled with the quality that he possesses, it has to be said that it’s smart business from the hierarchy first and foremost and a positive start from the new-look management with Paolo Maldini at the helm.
12 – Rade Krunic was one of four midfielders (along with Ilicic, Gómez, de Paul) to have been involved in 12 or more goals in the last Serie A season (five goals, seven assists). Concrete.
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) June 13, 2019
Krunic enjoyed an impressive season last year despite Empoli’s relegation, as he bagged five goals and seven assists in 33 league appearances.
Beyond the figures though, his technical quality, physicality, ability to run at defenders, creativity and eye for goal all make him a real talent.
Although he’s not a marquee name or perhaps doesn’t create as much buzz and have the reputation of a player like Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, he could potentially be a vital addition to the midfield with his versatility and has his peak years still ahead of him as he’ll look to mature and continue to develop while trying to offer more than just merely squad depth.
What is relatively clear at this early stage is that he should be an upgrade on what we previously had and it hasn’t cost us a huge fee to bring him in, with FFP limitations in mind.
It’s rarely advisable to judge a player off a highlights video, but for those unfamiliar with Krunic last season, the footage below gives you a clear indication of what he is capable of offering and how he has a tactical brain and the vision to pick out the right pass, but it’ll be down to him to handle the additional pressure that comes with playing for Milan in order to flourish under the big lights.
Compilation of Rade Krunic https://t.co/zc5K6rlsQ4
— Milan Eye (@MilanEye) June 12, 2019
Nevertheless, perhaps the two most important factors are that he adds a new dynamic to the Milan midfield and fits the mould of what Giampaolo requires from his midfield players to successfully implement his preferred style of play.
With that in mind, coupled with the fee involved, it’s an astute first signing for Milan this summer, and it will be fascinating to see Krunic face the challenge of now taking his career to the next level and playing a key role next season, with the club wasting no time in addressing a glaring flaw in the squad.