For months, speculation has linked Ralf Rangnick with an influential position at Milan ahead of next season, and it’s now suggested that there is a core of players he could build around.
It’s worth noting that nothing is official as of yet. Neither Milan nor Rangnick have confirmed an agreement is in place, and so this is all ultimately still very much in the air.
As noted by La Gazzetta dello Sport on Friday though, there is continued talk of an arrival and the focus is centred on the players that could be part of the nucleus of the side moving forward if Rangnick was to arrive.
Those five players singled out are Gianluigi Donnarumma, Alessio Romagnoli, Theo Hernandez, Ismael Bennacer and Hakan Calhanoglu, and while that will still likely spark debate amongst fans whether it is over individuals who were or were not included on that list, that is a strong base on which Milan can build.
From a personal perspective, an argument could perhaps be made in favour of Matteo Gabbia and Ante Rebic being involved in the conversation, but as noted for the reasons below, it’s difficult to disagree with the names put forward as potentially being the pillars of Rangnick’s plans for Milan, should he arrive.
The 21-year-old is both a pillar and a symbol of this Milan. Despite his age, he’s already made 190 appearances for the club and he continues to display his importance between the posts week in and week out.
As his maturity improves with experience, he’s beginning to cut out mistakes and lapses in concentration, albeit not fully yet, while he is more than capable of producing match-defining saves on a regular basis.
With his current contract set to expire in 2021, it’s hoped that he pens a new long-term deal to commit his future, and if he is a big part of Rangnick’s potential plans, perhaps that will assist in convincing him to put pen to paper.
Similarly to Donnarumma in many ways, the club captain has established himself as a pillar and symbol of this side.
After joining us in 2015, it was clear that we had landed a real talent. His elegant style of play both in his defensive work and in possession gave the impression that he was always going to develop into a top player and he has followed that path as expected.
Given his importance to the backline, his growing leadership and to maintain that Milan culture along with Donnarumma, it’s crucial that the Rossoneri ensure he’s a central figure in our plans moving forward regardless of who’s steering the ship.
While the duo above are perhaps more certain to be part of Rangnick’s plans due to their quality and attachment to the club, these three are arguably ideal for the German chief due to their characteristics and attributes which would suit the style of play that he has adopted at the clubs he’s been involved in previously.
Hernandez has been a breath of fresh air down the left flank this season, showcasing great work-rate, desire and quality with his attacking play, albeit he still needs to improve on the defensive end.
That said, he has the speed, stamina, mobility and technical quality to be a perfect fit for what Rangnick could instil at Milan in an offensive, high-tempo and pressing style.
As noted above for Hernandez, the 22-year-old ticks all the right boxes for what would be perceived as an ideal fit for Rangnick and the style of play he might adopt.
He’s quick-thinking, intelligent, plays at a high tempo, is mobile to get into pockets of space and has the tactical brain to play between the lines and become an all-round rock in the heart of the midfield.
GdS note in the report above that there is speculation over his future currently, but it’s imperative that Milan keep hold of him for the time being as he has only just started to show his quality and potential. If we really do see him as an asset who could result in a sizeable profit, he’ll arguably be worth even more in a couple of years time and so it’s far too early to cash in, even though that would be a disappointing decision regardless of when it happens.
This particular nod will perhaps draw the biggest critical gaze from many Milan fans. With just 17 goals and 28 assists in 116 appearances for us, the 26-year-old hasn’t exactly been the creative, flair playmaker that we thought we were adding.
That in turn has earned him a lot of criticism, but ultimately there are clear signs as to why he would be considered an important piece by Rangnick, with GdS even suggesting that he has already contacted the Turkish International privately to express his appreciation of him.
Calhanoglu is versatile, possesses technical quality and ability on the ball and has a great work ethic, all key components for a top player. His problem has been a lack of decisiveness and consistency, if he can add that to his game perhaps with Rangnick’s help, then he could yet be a pillar of his possible future plans if he does indeed arrive at Milan this summer.