Why Milan ace now has big opportunity to secure starting spot in Giampaolo’s XI

Andrea-Conti-AC-Milan

Andrea Conti’s spell with Milan thus far has been somewhat of a nightmare, as the former Atalanta defender has been blighted by injuries since joining us.

Despite arriving in July 2017, he has made just 20 appearances for the Rossoneri, as he firstly sustained an ACL injury in September that same year before suffering a similar setback in March having made a successful recovery.

SEE MORE: Milan vs Inter: Match preview, team news, probable XI and player to watch

At that stage, the priority for the 25-year-old would have perhaps been to merely get back to full fitness, steer clear of injuries and simply play again.

Fortunately, he was able to do that in the latter stages of last season, although he has been kept out of the side by Davide Calabria so far in this campaign.

As reported by MilanNews, his agent spoke of interest from other clubs this past summer, but the Italian defensive ace remained with us and chose to fight for his place and future at the San Siro.

That crucial opportunity to surpass Calabria in the pecking order has now presented itself, as ahead of the Derby della Madonnina against Inter this weekend, Conti finds himself likely to start after his teammate was sent off against Verona and will serve a one-match ban.

It’s perhaps worth noting that there is a possibility that coach Marco Giampaolo will make a disappointing choice and opt for the versatility of Fabio Borini at right-back to fill the void, but ultimately it’s fair to say that Conti deserves a chance to impress instead.

After such an impressive stint at Atalanta to earn the switch to Milan two summers ago, we haven’t yet seen anywhere near the best of Conti in a Rossoneri shirt as he has constantly been battling injury and fitness issues.

Ideally, he needs a lengthy run of games to get consistent minutes under his belt and to feel settled in a tight-knit backline. With that in mind, the clash with Inter takes on additional importance for him if he hopes to use it as a platform to cement his place in the starting line-up moving forward.

Albeit he has looked a little shaky defensively since the injury blows, his recovery pace can get him out of jail at times and generally speaking, he has been solid in that regard previously and can certainly close things off down that flank.

There is a concern that together with Mateo Musacchio on that side of the back four, we could be vulnerable especially if Romelu Lukaku looks to exploit that area with runs in the channels and with the movement in behind from the likes of Matteo Politano, Stefano Sensi, Lautaro Martinez and perhaps even Alexis Sanchez.

In turn, Conti will have to be switched on throughout as ultimately a mistake at this level with this opposition could prove to be costly.

Importantly though he also poses an attacking threat coupled with his defensive ability, as he has the energy, tenacity and stamina to get up and down the right flank to provide width and an outlet if needed.

We’ve only been able to see glimpses but he’s contributed three assists in just 20 games for Milan, while he bagged 10 goals and five assists in 50 outings for Atalanta.

With those figures in mind, there is no doubt that he can offer plenty going forward, and with how narrow and congested Milan have been playing in the first three games coupled with the lack of attacking intent offered by Ricardo Rodriguez on the opposite flank, it could be vital that Conti shows that side of his game.

Provided he starts, this is a big moment for Conti. If he fluffs his lines, Calabria will be waiting to come straight back in next week against Torino. However, if he impresses, he could convince Giampaolo to just hold off on making the immediate switch back and this could turn out to be the window of opportunity he needs to finally get his Milan career moving in the right direction.