Why €40m duo are Milan’s first gamble of summer but will be crucial for Giampaolo

Giampaolo AC Milan Krunic Hernandez

With a new coach comes new ideas and the need for players who fit his plans, and so it was to be expected that changes would be made for Milan boss Marco Giampaolo.

With another month remaining in the transfer window for Serie A sides, there is still time to make key additions and green light sales, and it appears as though Milan are far from done.

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According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the Rossoneri are expected to wrap up a double deal this week with Rafael Leao joining in a €30m move from Lille, while Leo Duarte will sign from Flamengo in a €10m switch.

Up until this point, there has been a high degree of confidence and optimism that Milan have made sensible signings who satisfy the demands of Giampaolo and can carry out the ideas that he is trying to implement on the pitch.

Arguably for the first though, there is a sense Milan are now taking more of a gamble with their latest two additions as there’s an element of the unknown as to how well they will adapt and perform.

That’s not to suggest that they won’t prove to be major hits, but time will tell whether or not they can deliver to help us achieve our objectives this season.

Impressive signings to date

Both Theo Hernandez and Rade Krunic have arrived this summer, and although the latter has been limited to a brief appearance in pre-season this week as he continued his recovery from an injury, he has the attributes to be a key addition to the squad to provide quality depth at the very least.

As for Hernandez, he has shown already this summer that he’s an ideal fit at left-back to give Giampaolo plenty of intensity, urgency and tenacity on the left flank in both the defensive and attacking phases of the game.

While we still await the official announcement on Ismael Bennacer, Pianeta Milan noted earlier this month that the Algerian international has secured a switch from Empoli, and so it’s merely a matter of time before he joins up with the squad and is unveiled having been given an extended break after the AFCON.

Similarly to the other two, the 21-year-old possesses the energy and tenacity to press the opposition and win back possession quickly, while also having the technical quality and ability on the ball to ensure we can play a more expansive and entertaining brand of football.

In turn, while they might not be marquee signings, there is a very clear identity and style emerging both in terms of how the team will play and the type of players set to be brought in to help Giampaolo implement his ideas.

Duarte and Leao offer less guarantees, plenty of potential

As noted by Calciomercato, Milan were heavily linked with Juventus defender Merih Demiral, but amid concerns over his valuation, the focus was switched to Duarte instead.

The 23-year-old will be a gamble in the sense he’s arriving from Brazil and will have to adjust to Italian football, and that’s a process that not every player is capable of successfully navigating.

While he appears to have the technical quality on the ball to build out from the back and has a good reading of the game coupled with a tenacious side to win possession back, there are question marks over his marking and concentration.

Tactically, he’ll have to be switched on and it’s hoped that he can begin to form a decent partnership with Alessio Romagnoli if he gets the nod ahead of Mateo Musacchio. Ultimately though, the biggest hope is that he’s effectively added as solid depth for when Mattia Caldara returns from injury.

As for Leao, the 20-year-old scored eight goals and provided two assists in 26 appearances for Lille last season, and there is obvious raw talent there.

However, he’ll have to adapt to a second striker role as well as being a second option up top, and it remains to be seen how consistent he can be given Patrick Cutrone has left and Andre Silva could follow soon after.

Time will tell if Angel Correa arrives as MilanNews note that talks are ongoing with Atletico Madrid, and while he’ll offer more guarantees given his experience and suitability for Giampaolo’s system, Leao will hopefully prove to be the big surprise who makes a crucial impact this season.

Pace, movement and ability to stretch defences while knowing how to find the back of the net, there are positive signs. Nevertheless, given his age, inexperience and having yet to prove he can deliver at the highest level on a consistent basis, patience will be needed to see if he can be a key figure in the final third.