In 2017, we saw an influx of new signings at Milan with a real sense of excitement over a number of talented young players with big futures ahead of them.
Unfortunately, many of those signings haven’t worked out as hoped, and two years on we’re still searching for a return to the Champions League with a new coach and new faces arriving to improve the squad.
Equally as important as the new signings this summer is whether or not coach Marco Giampaolo can get the best out of the players that he inherited and in turn ensure that they have important roles to play moving forward.
Naturally, much will depend on whether or not they’re still at the club when the transfer window closes, but Hakan Calhanoglu and Franck Kessie are still Milan players and will be looking to impress in the coming weeks to convince Giampaolo that they should stay.
Calhanoglu must kick on and take his game to next level
With just 12 goals and 24 assists in 91 appearances for Milan, the 25-year-old hasn’t been the creative spark and flair player that the club perhaps thought they were adding to the squad.
On one hand, he has been played in a more unnatural position for the most part having been deployed on the left flank in a 4-3-3 which in turn has had a negative impact on his form and has contributed to his struggles.
Nevertheless, he simply hasn’t been consistent or good enough given he’s expected to be a real creative hub in the side, as too often his distribution and final ball been wayward.
That said, given his technical quality and creative ability coupled with a tenacious side which sees him work very hard defensively, there is a strong case to suggest that he is an ideal piece in the puzzle for Giampaolo.
It’s likely that he will now be deployed as part of the midfield three, and his versatility could be particularly useful. The expectation will be that he’s played as a mezzala, but with the vision and passing range to perhaps play a little deeper, it will be interesting to see if that’s something Giampaolo tests out.
Speculation of an exit has gone quiet in recent weeks, and so Calhanoglu may well get another chance to make his mark as a Milan player this season.
— Hakan Çalhanoğlu (@hakanc10) August 2, 2019
Time for Kessie to fulfil his potential
The 22-year-old arguably has all the characteristics needed to be the perfect modern-day midfielder. Powerful, agile, energetic, tenacious and a real box-to-box presence, Kessie has many strengths which initially convinced Milan to sign him.
As per Sportmediaset, he’s most recently being linked with a switch to England with Wolves, and while it will be tempting given our need to balance the books and fund further spending, Giampaolo will surely want to take a closer look at him in pre-season first before making a decision.
Kessie has of course been given an extended break after his participation in the Africa Cup of Nations, and so any exit will likely be on hold until he gets a chance to return to Milanello.
Ultimately, he has all the potential in the world, but we’ve yet to see him get close to fulfilling it. Time is still on his side as he’s still young, and perhaps a coach like Giampaolo can tap into that talent and drag it out on a consistent basis.
However, while he remains a powerhouse in our midfield in terms of what he offers from a defensive perspective, that can’t be all there is to his game as he has to become more effective and efficient in possession and in the final third as he has been far too wasteful in dangerous positions over the last two years.
Milan still lack a player with his qualities and so that could be a key factor in him staying on if a suitable replacement can’t be found. However, it may well be decision time for Milan in the coming weeks in that they have to make a choice on whether to keep Kessie and hope he fulfils that potential, or get rid and move on with a decent fee in the bank to go out and sign a midfielder more suited to Giampaolo’s style and ideas.