Marco Giampaolo was finally presented to the media as the new Milan coach on Monday, and so the real work can now begin as the players return for pre-season.
It was an impressive press conference from the 51-year-old, as he struck a balance between humility and determination while showing a calculated side in terms of his awareness of having to assess and plan in the coming weeks before making key decisions.
Once he has had the opportunity to analyse the players closely at Milanello, he can then make informed decisions on who fits into his plans moving forward, and so there are various questions which are emerging as pre-season is upon us.
Keep or sell Rodriguez?
As noted by Goal.com, Milan splashed out €20m to sign Theo Hernandez from Real Madrid on a permanent basis last week, and so given his price-tag and his attributes which are seemingly a better fit for Giampaolo’s system and brand of football, it has to raise question marks over Ricardo Rodriguez’s future.
The Swiss international was a key figure last season, and while many will defend him in terms of being a reliable and consistent performer, the lack of urgency in his attacking play and vulnerability in getting caught out against pace and being out of position showed his limitations on countless occasions last year.
Nevertheless, Giampaolo must decide if that duo will battle it out for a starting berth, or if Rodriguez will now be sacrificed to help balance the books. If he stays, both Diego Laxalt and Ivan Strinic will surely have to move on.
Defensive reinforcement still needed
While Ignazio Abate and Cristian Zapata both left, Mattia Caldara will need time and patience to fully recover from his injury nightmare last season which saw him suffer two serious setbacks.
Alessio Romagnoli will undoubtedly continue to be one of the first names on the team-sheet, although Mateo Musacchio’s position surely isn’t as secure.
Similarly to Rodriguez, the Argentine centre-half showed his strengths last season, but there are also weaknesses there that were often exploited. In turn, he isn’t the ideal partner for Romagnoli, and so while we await Caldara’s return to full fitness, a new defender will be needed.
Of the names mentioned, Atalanta’s Gianluca Mancini is arguably the most appealing, as reported by Calciomercato, as he would perhaps fit the general mould of our signings this summer.
A deal is said to be in place for Ismael Bennacer, as per Fabrizio Romano in his tweet below, while Goal.com note that he’ll be reunited with Rade Krunic after his €8m move from Empoli was officially confirmed on Monday.
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 4, 2019
Those are two impressive additions, but given the midfielders that left this summer coupled with the need to bring in individuals who suit Giampaolo’s style of play, perhaps one more signing in that department is needed at least.
As noted by MilanNews.it, via Alfredo Pedulla, Milan are expected to step up their pursuit of Jordan Veretout, and while it’s perhaps another underwhelming signing for some, it’s a functional one as he’ll fit into Giampaolo’s plans perfectly and help us play with a clear identity and style next season.
Time will tell if an agreement can be reached with Fiorentina, but it’s a move that makes sense given the current position we’re in, and it’s an intriguing one as we’re finally making signings to fit a system and plan and it should prove to be an astute addition if it materialises.
Does Suso fit in?
Can Suso adapt to the trequartista role? Won’t Paqueta be first choice there anyway? Could he play as a second striker? Giampaolo will need to find the answers to these questions in the coming weeks, as if the answer is no to all three, then the Spaniard could be sold to help balance the books.
As per Football Italia, Suso has a €40m release clause in his current contract, and so that could go a long way in bringing in a significant capital gain, while also allowing us to avoid having to sell others instead such as Gianluigi Donnarumma.
If the answer is yes though, then much of pre-season will be used to help Suso adapt to the new role to ensure that he can be productive on a consistent basis, as opposed to going missing for large periods during the season while playing on the right wing.
Who will partner Piatek?
Whether it’s Andre Silva or Patrick Cutrone, or if one is sold in order to make space in the squad for another signing to find the perfect balance alongside Krzysztof Piatek, there is a decision needed on the ideal front pairing if a 4-3-1-2 system is adopted.
Silva is arguably a better fit to complement Piatek with his technical quality and creative skills, although Cutrone has continued to battle hard to prove his worth and perhaps deserves more than a bench role next season.
Those are decisions Giampaolo will make based on what he sees in training and the adaptability of the players in question. Ultimately though, it seems as though he has a good combination at his disposal already, one that should allow him and the hierarchy to focus their resources elsewhere as there are bigger priorities before the deadline passes this summer.