Why Pioli must get more from Milan duo to follow in footsteps of key pair

Pioli AC Milan

After finishing just short of a Champions League qualification spot last season, it was hoped that Milan’s summer signings could help us take that final step.

Evidently, things haven’t gone to plan in that regard as we’re still languishing down in 10th place in the Serie A table after 15 games, with a nine-point deficit to wipe out to climb up to fourth spot.

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As we attempt to make it three consecutive league wins on Sunday against Sassuolo, there have undoubtedly been positive signs under Stefano Pioli even if the results were missing, with two of our summer additions now becoming fundamental pieces in the starting line-up.

Over the last two games we’ve seen other key individuals step up and make a key contribution, with Andrea Conti, Giacomo Bonaventura and others impressing to help us start to build some momentum ahead of the winter break.

Pioli starting to get best out of key duo…

That said, Theo Hernandez has been fundamental in our positive play and results as reflected in him bagging four goals and an assist from left-back in 12 games, while Ismael Bennacer is now starting to make the central midfield role his own ahead of Lucas Biglia.

Both players add intensity, urgency, technical quality and an intelligence on the pitch be it with their movement off the ball or their ability to shift play quickly up the pitch. They suit the style of play we’re looking to adopt under Pioli perfectly, and so it’s a huge boost to see them flourishing with further room for improvement still clear.

However, while Pioli has seemingly played his part in overseeing them play at a high level and display consistency in their performances, the Milan boss must now do the same with two other summer signings who need to have a bigger impact moving forward to help the team as a whole continue to make progress.

Must now replicate that with two other summer signings…

In seven outings for Milan, Ante Rebic has failed to register a single goal or assist. He’s totalled 177 minutes of football thus far, and given the nature of coming off the bench and trying to get up to speed with a new league, culture and environment, it can’t be easy.

While it’s difficult to see him getting a lengthy run of games to prove his worth with Suso continuing to get the nod on the right flank, Pioli has an experienced international player capable of making an important impact if he can rediscover his best form.

For the good of the team as a whole to give us a different dynamic in the final third, specifically on the right flank with his movement, pace and directness in possession, it’s imperative that Rebic starts to offer more in the coming months.

In contrast, Rafael Leao made a positive start to the campaign as he bagged a goal and an assist after four appearances for Milan, but he has failed to add to either of those tallies in his last seven outings while he was left on the bench entirely for two games.

Similarly to Rebic with his pace and direct style of play to stretch defences and give them something different to think about up top, Leao needs to get back to making a decisive impact when involved, especially if given a starting berth ahead of Krzysztof Piatek.

Milan have two potentially major offensive weapons in the two players named above, and it will be to everyone’s benefit to see them follow the path set by Hernandez and Bennacer in shining in this current side and having the impact that they were brought in to make.

Pioli has done well to get Hernandez and Bennacer to the level expected of them, but now he must repeat that trick with Leao and Rebic to give Milan more dynamism and a different attacking threat to give teams more to think about and be concerned with week in and week out.