Speculation has heavily linked Milan with an interest in Brescia and Italy midfielder Sandro Tonali, and pulling off a deal for the talented youngster would be huge.
As noted by Calciomercato earlier this month, Milan have made contact with his agent as they eye a move. However, his touted €50m valuation and competition from the likes of Juventus and Inter are certainly major obstacles that still need to be overcome.
SEE MORE: Tactical analysis: Why Sandro Tonali would be superb addition next to Bennacer for Milan
In turn, there is a long way to go before we can start genuinely believing that a deal will be done, but signing the 19-year-old would be significant for various reasons.
His talent and potential have been well documented during his rise with Brescia having played a key role in their promotion from Serie B last season, while he has impressed in the top flight this year too.
With that in mind, there’s no real need to go over what he can offer Milan in terms of his footballing ability, as that is detailed in the tactical analysis piece above. Instead, how would signing Tonali impact Milan on and off the pitch?
Addresses a key void
Albeit he has played a minimal role this season, as things stand Lucas Biglia is set to leave this summer when his current contract expires.
Ismael Bennacer has cemented his place in the starting XI, but finding an ideal midfield partner to provide a real balance and additional quality to see a crucial pairing flourish in the heart of the side is still a key necessity for Milan.
Franck Kessie offers physicality, energy and combativeness in midfield and perhaps still has an important role to play moving forward, but there is arguably still a creative void in the Milan midfield with Tonali capable of providing the vision, passing range and positional awareness to perhaps complement Bennacer perfectly.
Fits mould of Milan strategy perfectly
Although the Rossoneri added veteran experience in January, the general transfer strategy under owners Elliott has been to identify talented young players with a big future ahead of them.
That’s been reflected in the signings of Theo Hernandez, Bennacer and Rafael Leao, while the likes of Rade Krunic and Ante Rebic are still in their mid-20s and so the peak of their careers is still to come.
Tonali is young, very talented, homegrown and given the stage in his career he’s currently in, he arguably won’t demand a huge salary to join. Those are very important boxes that are ticked.
Sense of connection given childhood link
It’s noted in the Calciomercato report above that Tonali supported Milan as a child and idolised Gennaro Gattuso in particular.
While that alone won’t make him a successful signing for Milan if a deal materialised, that sense of belonging and attachment to the club badge arguably makes a big difference.
Tonali isn’t one of the young players coming through the club’s youth ranks who are desperate to enjoy a long career in the Milan shirt. However, he would perhaps share that same motivation and passion if he has that connection from his younger years.
Strong message to fans
A quick glance on social media to see the reaction from Milan fans to the reports of interest in Tonali pretty much says it all about the feeling towards potentially signing him.
Mediana da ricostruire, cessioni e milioni risparmiati: Milan, ora Tonali si può acquistare https://t.co/5yzFmhoOOk
— MilanNews.it (@MilanNewsit) April 8, 2020
For the reasons outlined above in terms of his talent on the pitch and his well-publicised childhood support of Milan, it has undoubtedly made him a highly demanded signing by the Rossoneri faithful.
While football clubs aren’t run on what fans want to see happen, if Elliott and CEO Ivan Gazidis are looking for a way to build that partnership and raise spirits and hope amongst the fanbase, signing Tonali would certainly help.
Show of strength to rivals
As noted by Calciomercato above, Juventus and Inter are just two of a number of clubs also paired with an interest in Tonali and so Milan will face competition this summer.
Those two sides in particular are in a much stronger position than us to compete in the more immediate future as they battle it out for the Serie A title this season and will again compete in the Champions League next year.
In turn, if Milan could convince Tonali to snub those options which would arguably be the more sensible ones for his own career and progression, it would be a huge coup and major signal to our rivals that we can still compete for the top talent in the transfer market to try and bridge that gap on the pitch.
One player won’t change our fortunes and so the entire transfer window will have to be the home of sensible decisions this summer. Nevertheless, landing Tonali’s signature would undoubtedly be a significant bit of business for Milan if they can make it a reality.