Sunday night’s defeat to Juventus leaves Milan down in 14th place in the Serie A table after 12 games and now facing an 11-point gap to fourth spot.
Although there are signs of improvement under Stefano Pioli, results are simply not matching the performances and that will be a growing concern as the weeks pass by.
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It’s hoped that the Rossoneri can still wipe out that deficit and be in contention for a top-four finish in the latter stages of the campaign, but what they do in January to address key weaknesses in the squad will potentially be decisive and so the pressure is on to get the right deals done.
Ibrahimovic ideal for short-term solution in attack
As noted by BBC Sport, the suggestion that Zlatan Ibrahimovic could return to Milan has been speculated, and it’s expected from that report that we’ll perhaps at least be monitoring his situation when his current contract with LA Galaxy expires at the end of December.
Given we’ve managed to score just 11 goals in 12 games, which in turn has been a significant reason behind our struggles in winning just four games so far this season, Milan must address the attack in January.
While Krzysztof Piatek is undoubtedly struggling this year, he surely hasn’t lost that goalscoring instinct and quality in front of goal entirely over the summer after such an impressive debut campaign in Italy.
Unfortunately though given our current situation, we simply can’t afford to wait until he rediscovers his goalscoring touch with no proven, reliable option to come in to replace him to take that pressure off his shoulders and protect him from criticism.
Yes this isn’t the Ibrahimovic that scored 56 goals in 85 appearances in his last spell with Milan which helped us to our last Serie A title in 2011, as he is now 38 years of age and in the latter stages of his career.
Many will scrutinise the level of MLS and play down his tally of 53 goals in 58 games for Galaxy, but that shows that he can still produce quality in the final third and is capable of making a difference rather than being completely washed up, while he never relied on pace or certain attributes that could lead to a major decline.
Perhaps more importantly, the winning mentality, experience and leadership that he could bring to Milan both on and off the pitch could be priceless for this young squad.
Whether it’s lighting a fire under someone to help get the best out of them and demand that they improve or a more subtle approach in simply having his presence help breed more confidence and belief in those around him. He showed exactly those kind of abilities in his first spell with the likes of Antonio Nocerino taking their respective game to the next level.
Hakan Calhanoglu, Suso, Lucas Paqueta and others would have some pressure lifted off them to an extent, while if they’re not performing to the level expected or needed, there’s little doubt over Ibrahimovic letting them know about it.
Lack of realistic alternatives
Another key reason to strengthen the idea of bringing Ibrahimovic back is the argument that there is surely a lack of viable alternatives on the market who could have the same impact as him.
Milan need a proven individual who isn’t going to cost a huge fee and who is actually willing to accept the challenge of helping us get back into the Champions League despite our current plight.
As noted by Football Italia, Ibrahimovic has previously insisted that he never wanted to leave Milan in 2012, and while things have certainly changed in the seven years that have passed since, perhaps that connection to the city, fans and club still burns strong.
That is arguably more wishful thinking than realism, but ultimately looking on the market now, there’s perhaps a very thin shortlist of strikers available who could make the kind of impact that we’re in need of over a short space of time as we can’t just make a signing for the sake of it on someone who could be considered a gamble.
Whether it’s just for six months or longer if he demands it, Ibrahimovic is the kind of player, character and individual that Milan need on the pitch and in the dressing room at this point. If there is a possibility of convincing him to return in January, the hierarchy must grab it and bring one of the most popular figures to play for the club in recent times back to San Siro.