Milan have yet to see the best of Lucas Paqueta since his arrival last year, but the stage may well be set for the Brazilian to make an impact when the season restarts.
The 22-year-old arrived in January last year and there were big hopes and expectations that came with his signing given the potential he displayed for Flamengo, and so it was hoped he would develop into a top player for us.
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It hasn’t exactly gone to plan thus far as he’s managed just one goal and three assists in 36 appearances for the Rossoneri. While there were immediate promising signs under Gennaro Gattuso last season, he has steadily lost his way and fallen down the pecking order to add to his woes.
Nevertheless, having now had over a year to settle and adapt to life in Milan, while also having had ample time to adjust to Stefano Pioli and his methods and demands, the restart of the season could be the fresh break that Paqueta needed, at least that’s what both he and us as the Milan faithful will be hoping for.
As reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport, it’s suggested that Paqueta has returned to training fitter and more motivated than when the season was called to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, and he has put himself in contention to start against Juventus in our Coppa Italia semi-final second-leg encounter on Friday.
Furthermore, he is said to have impressed in a training match at the weekend, scoring two goals and showing good fitness and quality to suggest that he could be given a leading role in our first game back.
With Theo Hernandez, Samu Castillejo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic all missing, Pioli has to find solutions. Paqueta has seemingly forced himself into the frame, and now it’s up to him to produce on the big stage if he is indeed given the nod.
What is crucial though is that he’s deployed in a position and role that will get the best out of him. He has flair, he has vision and quality in possession and can pose a threat in the final third if put in the right areas. He hasn’t shown it anywhere near consistently enough and has to be more decisive, but the ability to be a threat in attack is there as we saw during his time at Flamengo.
We’ve also seen he has a tenacity about him to offer a defensive presence in midfield too and so it’s hoped that he can shine if he’s shown faith by Pioli.
As noted by ESPN, we splashed out €35m to sign the Brazilian star, and while Krzysztof Piatek has already been shown the door, it’s hoped that Paqueta doesn’t follow a similar path as it would be a huge shame to see two potential stars see their spells with Milan end prematurely after an underwhelming stint at San Siro.
With the GdS report above noting that Paqueta is fit, looking confident in training and perhaps set for a key role against Juventus in a system that could suit him given the absentees, if Pioli names him in the XI it’s down to him to make it count and set the tone for what’s to come for the remainder of the campaign.
If he’s capable of doing that, not only will it help us succeed in achieving our objectives this season, but it could also go a long way in cementing his place in the side and ruling out a similar fate to that experienced by Piatek.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) June 6, 2020