Why end could be near for Milan ace amid ongoing exit talk

Speculation is rife over the future of Suso as the Milan ace continues to be linked with an exit this month after a bitterly disappointing season thus far.

Much of the talk around Marco Giampaolo’s system and style of play centred around the Spaniard last summer, as with a switch to a 4-3-1-2 formation, question marks were raised over where he would fit into those plans.

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Having been a permanent fixture on the right wing for Milan in recent years, it was debated as to whether or not Suso could show versatility and an ability to adapt, with Giampaolo deploying him as the playmaker in his preferred formation before altering his plans and going back to the tried and tested.

Ultimately, it didn’t work. Milan’s poor form led to Giampaolo’s exit and Suso has managed just one goal and two assists in 17 appearances so far this season as he hasn’t been able to break out of his slump.

All of this isn’t just the 26-year-old’s fault. Others have been equally as poor and the chopping and changing of coaches and systems can’t be easy for any player.

That said, as our leading creative spark and our go-to star in the final third, he hasn’t been performing anywhere near the level we need him to this year, and we have seemingly shown a capability of coping just fine without him in recent weeks.

New system, no Suso

In the last two league games, we’ve picked up three points and looked much more dynamic and threatening in attack at times to suggest that Stefano Pioli may have found some answers with the switch to a 4-4-2.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s influence shouldn’t be downplayed on and off the pitch as that has arguably made a big impact on the rest of the squad. While there are still weaknesses and vulnerabilities in our current formation, it has led to better results than what we had previously.

In those two games, Suso hasn’t played a single minute. Neither have Krzysztof Piatek nor Lucas Paqueta, and so again, the problem isn’t just one player, but his poor form has been a major factor in our struggles.

Instead, we now have a player in Samu Castillejo who is starting to build some confidence and consistency, someone who works tirelessly for the team off the ball and seems a more natural fit on the right flank in a 4-4-2.

That work-rate is crucial in that position in this system, as we saw with Giacomo Bonaventura’s struggles at the weekend as he simply doesn’t have the legs for it. The same could be said for Suso, and so if Pioli intends on sticking with the current set-up, it’s hard to see him getting another look any time soon.

As per MilanNews.it, a meeting was held on Monday with doubts building over his future with Milan. Further, respected journalist Gianluca Di Marzio has once again floated the idea of a swap deal with Roma involving Cengiz Under, and so it remains to be seen if anything comes of that.

What it all points towards though is the possible end of Suso’s stint with the Rossoneri.

Fresh start for all concerned needed?

There is a sense that everything has stagnated when it comes to Suso and Milan. Just as his play has become predictable and slow, it has spread to our attack as a whole and that’s reflected in our measly tally of 21 goals in 20 Serie A games so far this season. Only three teams in the entire top flight have scored less goals than us.

With five goals in our last two games though, we’re starting to find solutions. Whether it’s Castillejo picking up his form, Ibrahimovic and Rafael Leao linking up, Theo Hernandez continuing to be a threat or Ante Rebic coming to our rescue, we’re getting answers from other players who are stepping up.

Perhaps we’ve reached a point where it’s in the best interests of both Milan and Suso to have a clean break and go our separate ways to flourish. Perhaps we expect too much from him or wrongly assign blame to him, or it could be argued that he’s simply not good enough to lead this team back to the level we want to be at.

There is no doubt that he possesses real quality and will likely go on and enjoy success elsewhere if he does move on this month. That said, this fit with Milan no longer seems right and so a debate that started in August with Giampaolo wanting to keep Suso, as noted by Calciomercato, could finally be coming to a disappointing end six months later.