Following a string of departures this summer, it was clear early on that there were specific areas of the Milan squad that needed to be prioritised.
From central defence to the midfield, the lack of quality and depth was alarming and it was widely expected that the Rossoneri would move swiftly to address those flaws.
However, the management had other ideas as one of the first moves they made was to bring in a new left-back, with Goal.com noting that we secured a €20m deal to sign Theo Hernandez from Real Madrid in a permanent transfer.
Given the presence of Ricardo Rodriguez in the squad, coupled with Diego Laxalt and Ivan Strinic being able to provide depth, that was ultimately one of the last places many of us expected to see a new signing arrive.
Nevertheless, Hernandez is in and it remains to be seen what that means for his new teammates as having spent a relatively sizeable fee, the 21-year-old will be expected to be named in the starting line-up when the campaign gets underway.
If that price-tag wasn’t enough pressure, Paolo Maldini has added more as having orchestrated the move and delivered a player that is considered more functional to coach Marco Giampaolo’s plans, the Milan legend believes, and expects, that our new signing can become one of the best in Europe in his position.
“He’s a young player, he’s only 21, but he’s already won the Champions League, he’s already played in a great team,” Maldini told the media at Hernandez’s presentation, as per MilanNews.it.
“Theo is one of the best full-backs in the game and he must aim to become one of the top three in the world. His arrival is perfect in terms of timing.”
That pressure and responsibility shouldn’t be anything new for Hernandez, as he’s arriving from Real Madrid having already won a number of trophies, albeit playing only 23 times for the Spanish giants.
Nevertheless, that experience at the highest level and developing that winning mentality alongside champions will surely stand him in good stead as he now looks to kick on and make the most of this latest opportunity to get his career on track and ensure that he reaches his full potential.
It may well be the right place at the right time, as given his attributes both defensive and attacking, he looks like an ideal addition at left-back to suit Giampaolo’s system and style of play.
The France U20 international is tenacious and quick to press off the ball to win back possession, pressurising opponents into mistakes. Naturally though, given his age there is still improvement to be made as he must combine that with patience and a better reading of the game to become defensively sound in all aspects.
However, he couples that with technical quality, pace, directness and dribbling ability on the ball to ensure he’s a dangerous attacking threat too, as he can certainly offer plenty going forward in the final third as his deliveries from the left flank as well as his efforts from distance will add a new dynamic to Milan’s attack.
It will be a welcome change to Rodriguez’s limited attacking play last season, as although he undoubtedly has a superb left foot, we rarely saw it. Whether that was down to his personal restrictions or tactical instructions is still unclear, but the Swiss international may well be concerned about his position in the side moving forward.
Hernandez has been given the big build up and has the personal backing of Maldini in his corner, and what’s wonderful to see is his social media accounts dominated by the Milan colours as he looks ready to embrace the challenge and opportunity ahead.
Judging from his stunning strike in his first pre-season game against Novara on Friday, as seen in the video below, he certainly means business and it will be fascinating to see his development in the coming years.
— Milan Eye (@MilanEye) July 19, 2019