After firing another blank on Monday, that’s now three consecutive Serie A games in which Milan have failed to find the back of the net.
A game or two here or there, and it’s perhaps more about bad luck and just needing to be more consistent. However, with just 10 goals scored in 11 games under Stefano Pioli, that would suggest that there are more fundamental issues at hand.
Milan have managed just 16 goals in 18 league games so far this season, with only three teams scoring less while the top six have all scored over double that tally. You don’t have to look too far into the numbers to know where the major problem lies with this squad.
Not just Suso to blame
It’s worth starting this piece by noting that the blame for our struggles can’t solely be put on Suso’s shoulders.
As a creative unit in general we’ve been painfully poor, and individuals such as Hakan Calhanoglu and Lucas Paqueta haven’t contributed anywhere near enough in the final third. Whether it’s Krzysztof Piatek or Zlatan Ibrahimovic playing up top, any frontman is going to struggle.
There is a serious breakdown between key players in our attack, and it has led to the predicament we find ourselves in now as we simply can’t break teams down. The worst thing is that the opposition knows it, and so not only are we far from being feared, but we almost now play into their hands given our predictability and lack of cutting edge.
Milan No.8 is a major problem
That said, Suso is now at a point where there is almost no argument in favour of why he deserves to still be in the team.
The facts and figures show that he has managed to contribute just one goal and two assists in 15 appearances so far this season.
Those are below average numbers for any player, but we’re talking about an individual that Milan rely on heavily to be our creative spark, and he is offering nothing in the final third either as a goalscorer or a provider.
Speculation was rife over the Spaniard’s future last summer, but as noted by Calciomercato, former coach Marco Giampaolo wanted him to stay. It could be argued that was the first major mistake that Milan made, as despite trying to adapt and adjust to make him feel at his most comfortable in terms of playing out on his favoured right wing, he isn’t delivering.
Whether it’s failing to take it past his man, getting to the byline, cutting inside and threatening with his left foot with a direct attempt or aimlessly firing in crosses that can’t even find a formidable physical figure like Ibrahimovic, the quality isn’t there from Suso and yet somehow he still remains in the XI.
Coupled with his limited defensive output and the fact that his confidence must now be absolutely shattered after being jeered by the Milan faithful yet again on Monday every time he lost the ball, it’s almost a case of Pioli taking him out of the firing line and protecting him.
In an ideal world, Suso would be performing at a high level. Whether that’s for the benefit of the team or ultimately for his own price-tag to maximise his profitability, it suits no-one that he’s currently playing so poorly.
However, Pioli can’t afford to persist with him. The same could be said of several players in the current squad, but Milan are going nowhere with so much responsibility and faith placed in Suso, and it’s becoming tiresome to keep coming back to the same point as he continues to fail to deliver.
This isn’t the first time that the conversation will be had, and it’s unlikely to be the last. If Milan are to take major strides forward in the coming months and years, Suso being a key focal point in our attack means it’s not going to work out.