With the new season just days away, Milan will be hoping to make a positive start as they travel to Udinese on Sunday evening for our Serie A opener.
It’s the start of another new era as Marco Giampaolo takes charge of his first competitive game, and having worked tirelessly to implement his style of play and system over the summer, time will tell just how long it takes for the pieces to fit into place.
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On one hand, we shouldn’t look too deep into pre-season. It’s essentially an opportunity to get fit and work on ideas and strategies to be ready for the new campaign.
Nevertheless, raising those fitness levels and performing well to boost confidence and morale within the team is always a welcome knock-on effect through the course of the summer schedule.
Some have certainly struggled though, with the likes of Samu Castillejo, Krzysztof Piatek and Mateo Musacchio not doing a great deal to impress. In contrast, others have stood out for the right reasons, and it’s hoped that they can build on that in the coming months.
Captain Alessio Romagnoli deserves a mention after looking steady throughout, while the likes of Davide Calabria, Fabio Borini and Lucas Biglia all did well and played significant minutes. Rafael Leao also looked lively in a brief outing, and we’ll see much more of him this season.
Top performers from pre-season
As noted by Calciomercato, speculation is ongoing over Donnarumma with Paris Saint-Germain continuing to be linked with a swoop.
There was genuine concern earlier in the summer that the 20-year-old could be set to move on, but fortunately that has largely disappeared and the tone has changed to one that would suggest he will ultimately stay.
He provided another example of his world-class talent with a brilliant save in the goalless draw against Cesena at the weekend, and he continues to offer guarantees and reassurances between the posts. More mature, more experienced and highly talented, it’s hoped that he remains and it’s been good to see him ignore the rumours and focus on his game this summer.
It may well have only been a brief outing against Bayern before injury ended his pre-season, but the former Real Madrid man certainly showed enough in those 40 minutes or so to suggest it’s going to be a lot of fun watching him this season.
Quick and snappy with the tackle to his energetic and dangerous running up and down the left flank, he offers key attributes in both phases of the game and suits Giampaolo’s system and style of play perfectly.
It’s hoped that he can recover from the ankle injury soon, but the early signs were most certainly promising from Hernandez.
Gradually got phased out of the side as pre-season went on with Musacchio getting the nod alongside Romagnoli, but the 19-year-old has seemingly played his way into securing a stay at the club rather than being shipped out on loan.
Whether it’s merely just the Coppa Italia games or perhaps offering competition for places early on to put pressure on Musacchio and Leo Duarte before Mattia Caldara returns, Gabbia could have a place in the squad.
Assured on the ball and composed and patient off it, he looks a good talent and one that Giampaolo could relish turning into a top player.
Similarly to Hernandez, it was only a brief outing for the fans’ favourite, but his display against Feronikeli was enough to get many of us excited with the quality that he showed as a trequartista.
With his technical quality and vision, he showed enough to suggest that he could be the alternative to Suso in the No.10 role, while he also has the versatility to feature elsewhere too.
The main thing is that he’s back at full fitness and the key is to now steer clear of injuries. If he can do that, then Milan may well have a hugely important figure back in the mix and a major boost for Giampaolo.
For the majority of the summer, the talk was that Suso would ultimately struggle in the trequartista role and that he would be sold as he doesn’t fit into Giampaolo’s plans.
He’s done well to dismiss those suggestions as the Spaniard has looked dangerous picking the ball up between the lines and offering creativity in the final third as well as bagging a couple of goals for himself.
Whether or not he can deliver consistently in the league is now the main question mark, but he’s had a decent pre-season and that can only be a positive thing for the more important matters ahead if he is indeed set to play a key role in Giampaolo’s system this year.