Milan have moved relatively quickly in securing their first two signings of the summer, with Rade Krunic and Theo Hernandez set to prove to be key additions.
As noted by Goal.com, it’s reported that the Rossoneri have spent €28m combined on the pair, with Hernandez setting them back €20m, while a further €8m has gone towards signing Krunic.
Further reinforcements are expected with so much of the summer transfer window remaining, and while they may not be marquee signings, both Hernandez and Krunic will have crucial roles to play this season and are a clear example of coach Marco Giampaolo stamping his mark on the squad.
Krunic key addition to midfield
Firstly, it’s worth noting that Riccardo Montolivo, Jose Mauri, Andrea Bertolacci and Tiemoue Bakayoko are no longer part of the squad, and so adding quality depth to the midfield is absolutely necessary this summer ahead of the new season.
At 25 years of age, Krunic is now ready to take that next step after impressing at Empoli, as he registered five goals and six assists in 34 appearances last season, which in turn was the most productive campaign of his career to date.
The Bosnian international possesses physicality, technical quality, creativity, a goal threat and tenacity to impose himself on the opposition, while his versatility will allow Giampaolo to deploy him either in a mezzala or trequartista role.
With that in mind, he has all the attributes to flourish in Giampaolo’s system and style of play, both on and off the ball, and while some will perhaps hope that he’s still simply quality depth and not a regular starter, he’ll have the hunger and motivation to prove himself at the highest level and to make his mark in the starting XI to make life difficult for Giampaolo to drop him.
That’s the kind of profile that Milan need in their new signings this summer, as if they want to close the gap and achieve our objectives next time round, players like Krunic who tick all the right boxes for Giampaolo, will be crucial additions to strengthen the squad.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) July 9, 2019
Hernandez brings vital boost on left flank
Perhaps the more immediate question is, what does this signing mean for Ricardo Rodriguez? Some will argue that the Swiss international was a reliable and consistent presence at left-back last season, while others will question his lack of attacking intent and lack of pace and awareness which made him a defensive liability at times.
Giampaolo won’t have those same problems with Hernandez, with the 21-year-old given a perfect opportunity to prove his quality at the highest level and make his mark on the big stage after a disappointing spell with Real Madrid.
What Rodriguez lacks, Hernandez has in abundance, albeit he doesn’t have the same level of experience and maturity as his new teammate.
Despite that, what he does possess is physical strength and tenacity to help make Milan a more rugged side, while he will continue to improve defensively with playing time and the help of his coaches.
However, his energy and drive to get up and down the left flank to provide width and an excellent delivery with that wand of a left foot also help to form a strong case for him to be the starting left-back next season, regardless of whether or not Rodriguez is still at the club.
That urgency and snappiness in his play will be fundamental for Giampaolo both from a defensive and attacking perspective, as the focus will be on pressing the opposition, regaining possession and bombing forward when appropriate to provide that outlet on the left flank to produce quality crosses for the likes of Krzysztof Piatek and whoever partners him up front.
While Krunic and Hernandez aren’t the big names that some fans will have hoped for this summer, it shouldn’t overshadow the fact that these are two very astute and crucial signings. Milan are buying with a plan in mind rather than loosely adding new faces just to make up the numbers and cross off a to-do list, and these two in particular fit the identity and brand of football that Giampaolo will look to implement next season.
📽 Catch a sneak peek of Theo’s first moments as a Rossonero 🔴⚫
— AC Milan (@acmilan) July 7, 2019