After an impressive stint with Atalanta, Milan swooped for Franck Kessie in 2017 and considered him a fundamental piece in our midfield for years to come.
The youngster established himself as a key figure for the Bergamo outfit in a short space of time, showcasing qualities that seemingly made him ideally suited to Serie A.
From his tireless work ethic, physicality and tenacity to offer defensive cover coupled with his energy to stamp his mark on a midfield battle and to make powerful, penetrative runs forward to provide a different threat in the final third, there was a lot to like about the Kessie signing.
As noted by Sky Sports, Man City, Liverpool and Arsenal were all said to have been keen on him prior to that switch to join us in 2017, thus reinforcing just how promising and highly-rated he was by many across Europe.
In turn, it was an exciting addition to the squad and there is no doubt that he has played an important role despite the managerial changes at Milan since he arrived.
As seen in the tweet below, Kessie has now made 100 appearances across all competitions for Milan, reiterating just how crucial his presence in the side has been over the past two years. As our only real box-to-box midfielder though, it could be argued that the likes of Gennaro Gattuso and Marco Giampaolo simply haven’t had any other choice but to play him.
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) September 21, 2019
Make no mistake, Kessie is still pivotal to this side given the job that he does in midfield, but it’s safe to say that much more was, and still is, expected of him and he hasn’t made the progress and developed at the speed many had hoped for.
Few will surely argue that the 22-year-old doesn’t do an important job in providing solidity and help defensively for the backline, as he works tirelessly off the ball.
However, the big issue that has continued to result in criticism is his lack of quality, consistency and composure in the final third.
In those 100 outings for Milan, Kessie has managed just 12 goals and eight assists. For a predominantly defence-minded midfielder, those are arguably acceptable tallies to some, but considering a number of those goals have come from the penalty spot, the figures are slightly flattering.
Further, and perhaps more importantly, for those who have watched Milan week in and week out over the last two years in particular, we’re all aware of the countless threatening positions Kessie has got himself into and has ultimately fluffed his lines either in taking on an opportunity himself or trying to create for a teammate.
The Ivorian international has consistently done all the hard work and let himself down with his end product, and that is ultimately where the biggest frustration lies with him.
If he can add that to his game and pair it with the combativeness and tireless effort in midfield, there is little doubt that the general consensus amongst supporters will change. However, whether it’s simply something that he can’t be taught or if the coaching has let him down to fall to oversee that necessary development, Kessie is continuing to fall short.
Making 100 appearances for Milan is something to be celebrated on an individual level and an impressive achievement, and it does illustrate how important he is for us even now.
That being said, Kessie must step up and take his game to the next level moving forward or the numbers will mean little in the bigger picture as we’re still left to hope that he hasn’t hit his talent ceiling and is capable of breaking through and showing that there is more to come to fulfil his full potential.