Given the number of midfielders linked with a potential move to Milan this summer coupled with expected exits, there is the possibility of a real rebuild ahead of next season.
As noted by MilanNews, both Lucas Biglia and Giacomo Bonaventura are being tipped to move on as their respective contracts are set to expire this summer, while the report also raises doubts over the futures of Lucas Paqueta, Franck Kessie and Rade Krunic.
Even if it were just the two stalwarts with expiring deals who departed, that would still leave us short of quality and depth in midfield and it would arguably be enough to ensure that it has to be addressed this summer.
READ MORE: Why Milan shouldn’t even entertain interest in key figure amid talk of potential €50m offer
The report above goes on to note that Martin Odegaard, Dominik Szoboszlai, Florentino Luis, Teun Koopmeiners and Tiemoue Bakayoko are on Milan’s transfer shortlist, and while that doesn’t cover the entire scope of touted targets, it gives an indication that we may well look to consider key signings in that department.
So, the question is which of the touted targets would be the smartest acquisitions for the club?
As per Calciomercato in April, it was suggested that Milan had made contact with the 20-year-old’s agent over a move while he was valued at €50m. In truth, there has been little reported on our interest since to suggest that any progress has been made and so realistically, this is perhaps an unlikely option.
Given the technical quality, composure and distribution that Tonali has displayed even after stepping up a level in Serie A this season though, he could be an ideal partner for Ismael Bennacer in a double pivot in front of the defence.
Coupled with his age, his potential and the buzz that such a signing would create for Milan fans, it would be a potentially decisive swoop to add another long-term piece to our midfield if he were to join.
As per Pianeta Milan, Ricci could be a potential option for Milan and the 18-year-old would arguably be a smart alternative to Tonali given the similarities in their play and attributes.
While Tonali is a little more polished having operated at a higher level and is at a more advanced stage in his development, Ricci has shown positive signs having been asked to step up at Empoli this season.
Perhaps still a little too raw and inexperienced, he could still be a low risk, high reward type of signing for us to offer initial depth while trying to make a breakthrough in the starting XI.
Earlier this week, Calciomercato, via the paper edition of Tuttosport, suggested that the Real Madrid loanee could cost €40m to prise away from the Bernabeu.
The 21-year-old has shown his class during his loan spell with Real Sociedad thus far, scoring seven goals and providing eight assists in 28 appearances.
Similarly to Tonali though, just how realistic is a move to Milan? With the option of trying to prove his worth to Real Madrid when his loan spell ends, is he really prepared to choose a move to join us instead despite our current position?
As per MilanNews, the Rossoneri are looking to lower the demands of RB Salzburg as the 19-year-old continues to impress. With five goals and eight assists in 30 appearances, he tends to operate on the left side of midfield and so that could mean two signings this summer to address holes in the midfield as a central figure will surely be needed too.
With Bonaventura potentially moving on, that could open up a space for Szoboszlai to fill if an agreement can be reached, and there is a lot to like about him despite his inexperience at the top level.
Given his creative edge and ability to be a direct goal threat too, he could be an exciting addition to the squad and so time will tell if he emerges as a priority this summer.
The 22-year-old is one of the names mentioned in the MilanNews report noted at the top of this post, and it’s easy to see why he may have emerged on our transfer radar.
Having captained AZ Alkmaar this season, he has shown real class in possession with his technical quality and passing range while he has a tenacity about his play to offer defensive solidity in front of the backline too having also operated as a centre-half at times.
It could be argued that he’s perhaps a little too similar to Bennacer in that they’re both left-footed and like to operate in a similar role, but perhaps pairing the two together could give us a really solid base on which to build with two players who can offer something important in both phases of the game.
Along with Szoboszlai and Ricci, perhaps he’s another more realistic target to consider.
As noted by MilanNews, via the paper edition of Tuttosport, we’ve also been linked with a familiar face in Bakayoko, who we know well after his loan spell with us last season.
Combative, physical and a powerful driving presence in the heart of midfield, he overcame a difficult start to life in Italy last year to establish himself as a pivotal figure for us in our pursuit of Champions League qualification.
He doesn’t boast the same level of quality on the ball as some of the names mentioned above, but he’s capable of offering more in the defensive phase of the game. In turn, if we’re perhaps considering how to allow Bennacer to flourish, bringing in Bakayoko to shore things up next to him could be a sensible option.
There is some real talent on that list, but time will tell who we are able to draft in ahead of next season. As noted above, the likes of Tonali and Odegaard seem unlikely particularly given how much they could cost, but there are still classy individuals who could help fill voids, offer us more quality and emerge as long-term solutions if they joined.
If Bonaventura and Biglia do move on, that could be the first real indication of a move towards a rebuild of a Milan midfield that has underwhelmed for far too long.