Much like Milan in general at the start of the season, the opening weeks of the campaign were a real struggle for Ante Rebic after his loan switch from Eintracht Frankfurt.
As noted by the club’s official site, the Croatian international penned a two-year loan move to join us, with relatively big expectations given the quality he had shown at both club and international level.
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However, things didn’t start well and a few weeks into his spell with Milan, it looked as though what might have been a dream move for him was starting to turn into a nightmare.
Rebic went eight Serie A games without providing a goal or an assist, and in the first 15 league outings of the campaign, he was left on the bench for eight of them.
Devoid of confidence and lacking form, the 26-year-old looked a shadow of himself as he couldn’t get things to click in the final third with possession often being surrendered far too easily and wayward crosses beginning to be jeered at times.
For any player looking to make a big impression after such a significant move in their career, it could have been a real mental blow for him as he struggled to show his worth.
Character check, relief after breakthrough
Then came the home encounter against Udinese on January 19. A game which Rebic started on the bench, but he not only scored just three minutes into the second half, he also stepped up and bagged the winner three minutes into injury time.
That was a huge turning point for the talented forward, as he scored four goals in his next five Serie A games, started in four consecutive outings and also made a decisive impact in the Coppa Italia.
For that alone, he deserves a lot of credit. As noted by La Gazzetta dello Sport in December, there was talk of his loan spell being ended early. To ignore that talk, believe in his ability to come good and start producing on the pitch shows that he has a lot of self-belief and character, traits that this Milan side needs.
It will have come as a huge relief for him to turn his spell around, and while that’s not to suggest that the hard work is done as he must still show this level of consistency over a lengthier period of time, he’s certainly made it much more likely that Milan will consider keeping him on beyond his loan spell.
As reported by MilanNews, via the paper edition of Tuttosport, it’s suggested that Rebic wants to stay at Milan although there is no confirmed option to buy included in the current deal. Time will tell if or when we get to see the season conclude given the ongoing coronavirus crisis, but Rebic’s form prior to the stoppage has certainly kept his hopes of a permanent move to Milan alive and it remains to be seen if the club move sooner rather than later to reach a new agreement.