Milan have heavily relied on Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu for a lengthy period of time, and that faith arguably hasn’t been rewarded to a high enough level.
The pair have been almost ever-presents in the line-up for almost two-and-a-half seasons now, having predominantly been deployed in the wide positions in a 4-3-3 system.
Suso has made the right wing his home, while Calhanoglu has flipped between the left flank and the midfield trio with similar results.
While it’s tempting to look back at their overall tallies since joining Milan to emphasise the point, it’s perhaps more productive to simply focus on what they’ve done so far this season, and it’s very little.
Suso has provided just one goal and two assists in 14 appearances, while Calhanoglu has two goals and one assist in 15 outings.
Given we’re talking about two fundamental pieces in our starting XI who have the responsibility of providing creativity and a goal threat, that is simply nowhere near good enough and it is a huge factor behind why we’ve managed to score just 16 goals in 16 Serie A games.
That gives us the worst goalscoring tally of the top 15 sides in the table, and it’s a big reason as to why we’re still languishing down in 10th place and 11 points adrift of the top four.
Fingers will no doubt be pointed at Krzysztof Piatek too for his lack of goals as our talisman up top, but if he hasn’t got the consistent quality behind him, it’s questionable as to how he’s supposed to do more although he could do better in certain situations.
There is often a baffling lack of chemistry between the attacking trident in terms of making the most of Piatek’s strengths and avoiding putting him in uncomfortable positions given the attributes he has, and so perhaps the coaching has to be scrutinised too.
Calhanoglu offers more intensity and urgency on and off the ball which is a character trait that is appreciated and his work-rate perhaps bails him out of being placed under more scrutiny. However, the attacking quality simply hasn’t been there to match it, and that is predominantly why he’s in the side.
In contrast, Suso was jeered by the Milan faithful at San Siro when he came off against Sassuolo at the weekend, and that wasn’t the first time that he has received that reaction, which shows that his poor form is certainly frustrating many fans.
We know that the Spaniard is talented and has the ability to be a game changer, and to a lesser extent, Calhanoglu can play an important role too.
That said, the fact is based on the numbers above, they are simply not doing enough to warrant being in the side let alone being such crucial figures for us in our attack.
As seen in the poll below, 43% of Milan Talk followers on Twitter voted for both players to be axed, while 37% want to keep Suso but get rid of Calhanoglu.
With only 11% supporting the option to keep them both, it just goes to show that from our small sample size at least, many have lost faith in their ability to take us back to where we want to be.
Despite the struggles outlined in this post though, the Milan pair seem to be immovable from the XI regardless of coaching changes, and so time will tell whether or not patience eventually runs out, if they turn things around to lead our charge with improved form or are possibly even seeing their valuations drop significantly which will hurt us if we come to a decision to sell.
To secure a positive result in Bergamo against Atalanta this weekend, we will need them both to show up. Based on what we’ve seen so far this season, it might not be worth holding our collective breath…
If we’re to stick with Calhanoglu/Suso as has been case even despite coaching change, can we get to where we want to be?
— Milan Talk (@MilanTalk1) December 13, 2019