While the team as a whole has improved significantly since the restart, Milan right-back Andrea Conti has also impressed as he has established himself as first choice in that role.
Impressed is used loosely in the sense that the 26-year-old has certainly proven to be more reliable, albeit with plenty of room for further improvement still.
It’s difficult not to continue to sympathise with him to an extent given his stint with the Rossoneri prior to this season was blighted by injuries, and two serious ones at that having undergone knee surgery on two separate occasions.
In total, he has missed 63 games since he joined us in 2017, outweighing the 44 appearances he has made, and so all concerned are still seemingly searching for the player that was so impressive at Atalanta.
Positive return after lockdown
While Conti was already well on his way to cementing his place in the starting XI under Stefano Pioli, getting the nod in five of the last seven games prior to the lockdown, he has ensured Davide Calabria has had to watch on from the bench since the restart aside from the draw at SPAL.
His influence going forward is still limited as he has just two assists so far this season, but defensively, he had started to show signs of being a solid part of the backline in more recent weeks.
That coincided with our best run of form this year, but unfortunately Conti’s character will seemingly be tested again this week as he’ll have to bounce back from his struggles in Naples.
Concerns return after shaky display
Whether it was Lorenzo Insigne causing him problems or failing to sufficiently deal with the overlap from Mario Rui, Conti was caught out of position and looked vulnerable on several occasions on Sunday night and gave away a number of cheap fouls, one of which led to the free-kick from which Napoli scored their first goal.
Subsequently, it will raise question marks over his ability to continue to offer a consistently sound presence on the right side of the defence, especially when coming up against top-quality opposition.
As noted above, he has impressed over the course of our six-game unbeaten run for the most part and it finally felt as though he may be getting his confidence back as well as his sharpness and fitness to start performing at the level that he’s capable of.
However, he’ll need a big performance against Parma in midweek, assuming Pioli sticks with him, as ultimately those nagging doubts are seemingly not going away just yet while transfer speculation continues to suggest that Milan may well choose to bring in a right-back this summer with Denzel Dumfries touted as a target, as noted by MilanNews.
While the pressure may well have eased off of Conti’s shoulders over the past month, he’ll perhaps be feeling it building again as he continues to try and prove he’s worthy of being our first-choice right-back moving forward.