Is €40m-rated target smart solution if Milan must fill Ibrahimovic void?

One of the big decisions that Milan face this summer is whether or not to exercise the option on Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s deal to keep him next season.

As noted by the club’s official site, the 38-year-old initially joined us until the end of this campaign and so it’s uncertain at this stage if he will be back next year.

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Four goals and one assist in 10 appearances and with his arrival coinciding with an upturn in form with his experience and quality proving crucial, the argument in favour of extending his second spell with us is a strong one.

However, as per La Gazzetta dello Sport, it has been reported that Ibrahimovic may not return, and it’s suggested that €40m-rated Napoli forward Arkadiusz Milik is currently at the top of Milan’s shortlist. If there is a void to be filled up front, is the 26-year-old the man for the job?

Pros and cons to possible swoop

It wasn’t that long ago we were last excited over the arrival of a Polish striker, and that didn’t turn out particularly great for Krzysztof Piatek as he left us after a year despite making a blistering start to life at San Siro.

So, would we avoid a similar disappointment if Milik was signed? No one can say with any real certainty given how our No.9s have struggled in recent years, but there are certainly pros and cons involved in the touted swoop.

Firstly, we’d be weakening a direct rival. Milik has been with Napoli since 2016, but considering he’s had to battle serious injuries along the way, a tally of 46 goals in 109 games is pretty impressive.

As he showed with Ajax, he has pure goalscoring instincts, great technical quality as seen in some of his finishes over the years and can offer a real presence in the box both in terms of being a poacher and physical enough to be a target in the air which would give us a different dynamic to Rafael Leao, and a possible partner for him up top.

Further, he has the ability to score from further out and from free-kicks, and given he’s now had four years worth of experience in Italy, he’s a well-rounded forward who has now adapted and settled in Serie A.

That all sounds promising, but there are concerns and drawbacks too. Those injuries noted above were serious blows, and so it has to be taken into account how they might impact him in a few years time and whether or not they will eventually take their toll.

Further, he’s a front-man who relies on service and although he has a nice touch and can help build play up, he isn’t your Ibrahimovic type leader up front.

Yes, Milik can make things happen, but to be truly effective, the Polish international needs quality service from around him to feed off and find the back of the net by being allowed to occupy the box.

If Milan are prepared and are capable of playing to his strengths, then there is an argument to suggest that he can prove to be a sensible replacement for Ibrahimovic, if one is needed.

However, with his current contract expiring in 2021, the touted €40m fee is surely a no go, and if Milan aren’t going to adapt to making the most of his qualities, then perhaps they should be looking elsewhere and not staring at a possible repeat of Piatek’s time at the club.

It’s a real question of identity at this stage. Do Milan go for a poacher and base their play around that to discover a 20-goal-a-season frontman, or do we need a more influential and charismatic man up top to lead the line like Ibrahimovic to do more than just score goals and create moments of magic that make the difference?

It would be helpful to have some certainty over the management set-up and the coach for next season to understand their philosophy and style of play before we answer that question. As things stand though Milik could be effective and add goals, but given the lack of creative quality and consistency that would be around him, it feels as though he’d be a good addition but it could be a struggle for him to prove to be a great one.

Still, Milan could do a lot worse if we are forced to find a replacement for Ibrahimovic ahead of next season.