It’s unfortunate to admit but it hasn’t gone to plan for Lucas Paqueta at Milan thus far, as the Brazilian ace has struggled to make a positive impact on the side.
In 39 appearances for the Rossoneri, the 22-year-old has managed just one goal and three assists, and given the talent we saw him display at Flamengo and at international level, we know there is much more that he can offer.
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For various reasons though, it hasn’t quite clicked for him at San Siro after a bright start when he joined almost 18 months ago, but it’s hoped that there is time over the next 10 games for him to prove his worth and secure a future at the club.
One of the more disappointing performances in the win over Roma on Sunday evening came from Giacomo Bonaventura, who was deployed through the middle behind Ante Rebic with Hakan Calhanoglu and Samu Castillejo flanking him.
The 30-year-old impressed at Lecce last Monday, but perhaps the relatively quick turnaround caught up with him as he looked sluggish in difficult conditions and barely made an impression in the final third.
Given it’s only a three-day turnaround this time, Stefano Pioli will surely be tempted to rotate and try to keep everyone fresh, and Paqueta’s impact off the bench at the weekend has arguably made his decision easy.
The Brazilian playmaker looked much more effective in a central attacking role, finding pockets of space near the edge of the box to emerge as a threat as he had an effort palmed out for a corner by Antonio Mirante as he almost got on the scoresheet himself.
However, as he drifted out to the left flank in the build up to the opening goal, it was his initial cross which sparked the melee in the box which ultimately led to Rebic blasting the ball into the back of the net to break the deadlock.
Paqueta finally has something to build on after his impressive cameo appearance and he has the fresher legs of the two. With Lazio, Juventus and Napoli to come next, we need him to hit his stride and make a contribution, and bringing him in to try and spark us into life at SPAL is surely an obvious option as his confidence will have been boosted on Sunday.
Much will perhaps depend on whether or not Zlatan Ibrahimovic is passed fit to start, while Rafael Leao will be hoping to get the nod with Calhanoglu shifting inside. That said, Paqueta is the more natural straight swap for Bonaventura, and if we’re still looking to try and get the best out of him rather than see him continue to gradually edge towards a disappointing exit, this is seemingly an ideal opportunity for him to make his mark.