Five key squad issues Milan must address ahead of next season

Pioli-Milan

While the wait goes on for the current campaign to resume, Milan have much to think about in the longer term with regards to the current squad.

Time will tell how the management set-up changes and whether or not Stefano Pioli remains as coach. Those two decisive decisions will no doubt influence what happens with the squad.

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Nevertheless, whether it’s Pioli or a successor, they have a number of issues which need to be addressed this summer to ensure we’re in a stronger position to succeed moving forward.

Donnarumma future/replacement

As noted by La Gazzetta dello Sport, there is uncertainty over the 21-year-old’s future as his current contract expires in 2021 and so either a renewal or a difficult decision will be needed this summer.

In an ideal world, Donnarumma will put pen-to-paper on a new deal and commit his long-term future to us. However, whether it’s the club’s lack of progress since his last extension or the difficulty in agreeing personal terms, there are obstacles ahead.

If Milan are forced to sell to avoid losing him for nothing next year, a decision is needed. Do Pepe Reina and Alessandro Plizzari return from their respective loan spells to form the new one-two partnership? Or do Milan enter the transfer market to identify an external long-term fix? It’s an important move to maintain reliability and reassurance between the posts.

Long-term partner for Romagnoli

Matteo Gabbia staked his claim to be a starter next to Alessio Romagnoli moving forward prior to the suspension of the season, and it’s hoped that the 20-year-old gets a fair shot at cementing his spot in the XI when the campaign resumes.

Milan still have Mateo Musacchio, Leo Duarte and Simon Kjaer on the books too. However, from the Argentine’s contract expiring in 2021 to Duarte’s comeback from a serious injury and Kjaer’s loan spell coming to an end, it remains to be seen if they all stay on beyond the summer.

We’ve seen countless veterans and young hopes get the nod next to Romagnoli over the last five years. Milan need a quality, long-term partner to bring stability and solidity to the backline and hopefully Gabbia can provide that while perhaps the question will be who will provide the depth behind him.

Right-back decision

Despite going back and forth between Davide Calabria and Andrea Conti, neither have really answered all the questions and fully convinced.

Both have shown defensive vulnerabilities while they’ve lacked a consistency in their attacking play to offer a real threat down the right flank. Albeit, that’s not necessarily a major issue given the emphasis is on Theo Hernandez to attack down the left and so our right-back tends to tuck in and provide defensive cover.

Neither Calabria nor Conti have emerged as the stand-out first choice, although with the latter now putting his injury nightmare behind him, he seems to be the preference for Pioli. Do Milan stick with the pair or look for an alternative solution? With other priorities, perhaps this will be lower down the pecking order.

Two midfield concerns

With Lucas Biglia and Giacomo Bonaventura potentially moving on this summer as their contracts will expire, it won’t necessarily be a major double blow given their injury problems and limited impact, but it leaves us with less quality depth in the squad in midfield.

Finding an ideal partner for Ismael Bennacer to allow him to flourish further is crucial, while adding more creative quality either in a proven winger or a playmaker to support our frontman is surely also required this summer.

Sandro Tonali would perhaps be a dream fit alongside Bennacer, with Calciomercato noting that Milan are in the hunt, and rather than take a gamble on another young player who could be hit or miss, signing a playmaker with experience and a track record of producing at a high level would also provide us with a significant boost.

Ibrahimovic future/replacement

As noted by the club’s official site, Zlatan Ibrahimovic rejoined us in January on an initial six-month deal, with an option to extend for another season.

Time will tell if that option is exercised, and ideally it will be as although he’s now 38 years of age, he’s shown enough this season to suggest that he can still play an important role for us at this level.

Additionally, he offers a physical presence up front that we’ve sorely lacked as we seemingly need a forward who has an all-round game rather than just being a straight-shooting goalscorer, while his experience alongside the younger players will be crucial too.

If he doesn’t stay, Rafael Leao hasn’t shown enough to suggest he is ready to step up into that role immediately. We won’t know until he’s given a fair shot of course, but going into a new season with all our hopes pinned on him being a 15+ goals a season striker is arguably a huge gamble.

Mattia Caldara, Gonzalo Higuain, Krzysztof Piątek and many others have come and gone over the last few years as we’ve failed to address some of the issues detailed above. Milan are starting to get it right in the transfer market when you consider Hernandez and Bennacer, and if we can keep key individuals and add more quality talent, we’ll hopefully continue to move in the right direction.