With pre-season preparations underway, Marco Giampaolo will be using the next few days and weeks to assess the Milan squad and work out who fits into his plans.
The Italian tactician made that clear in his presentation press conference, as he refused to commit to any key decisions until he had the chance to get to know the players at his disposal.
While that process is ongoing and may need patience, perhaps even until after our upcoming friendlies, speculation has resurfaced linking a key figure with an exit this summer.
As noted by Sky Sport Italia, Suso has been linked with interest from Roma, with the suggestion that a swap deal could be a potential avenue worth exploring.
Since the 25-year-old joined us in 2015, he has contributed 23 goals and 31 assists in 136 appearances across all competitions.
Having made the right wing his second home, the Spaniard has been one of our most influential creative players for several seasons now and remains widely regarded as one of our most important players in the final third.
Despite that, he still manages to split opinion like few other players, as many would arguably be willing to sacrifice him this summer given the potential cash injection he could provide, as well as the question marks raised over his ability to fit into Giampaolo’s system.
Should Milan keep or sell Suso this summer?
“Before moving seriously in the market, I still need to understand which of the current crop I’ll focus on. We need players who suit our style,” Giampaolo told the media last week.
“Suso’s a quality player and I really like players with quality. He can do almost anything. I won’t focus on our formation but rather on which players can form part of our squad.”
The argument in favour of keeping Suso is a strong one, as ultimately he has been the creative hub of the side for the past three seasons, while his ability to make something special happen with a pin-point delivery or strike from distance has bailed us out of trouble on several occasions.
Coupled with his technical quality and passing ability, he would fit the style of play that Giampaolo is expected to try and implement at Milan.
However, that’s about where the argument ends. Suso’s inconsistency and tendency to go missing in the latter stages of campaigns coupled with his limited defensive work have seen him frustrate and disappoint on countless occasions over the past three years too.
With Giampaolo now at the helm, is he capable of fitting into a 4-3-1-2 system? That would require him to either play as a trequartista or a second striker, and many have doubts as to whether he has the dynamics and versatility to play those roles having been so accustomed to, and limited to, the position as a right winger.
Giampaolo needs to assess that carefully and make a decision sooner rather than later, as if Suso fits into his plans, then the focus needs to be on ensuring that he’s able to adapt his game and make a consistent impact.
If he doesn’t, then perhaps we need to take advantage of Roma’s interest, albeit strengthening a direct rival probably isn’t a sensible idea, and try to open talks over a deal that will suit us too.
Instincts would suggest that we should expect to see Suso stay and either support Krzysztof Piatek up front, or push Lucas Paqueta back into the midfield three and play as the No.10.
However, it’s difficult not to feel that the best decision would be to sell. That would allow us to raise funds to bring in further reinforcements to suit Giampaolo’s system and brand of football, and still have Paqueta in the No.10 slot with Giacomo Bonaventura and Hakan Calhanoglu behind him on the left of the midfield three and perhaps give Andre Silva a second chance alongside Piatek.
It’s a big decision for Giampaolo to make as cutting our most influential player first up isn’t one he’s going to take lightly. Nevertheless, there is a sense that it just might be the right move given the other options at his disposal and it would give him some degree of flexibility to continue to stamp his mark on the squad.