Three out, three in: How Milan could strengthen key area of Pioli’s squad

After Milan finished with the third-worst defensive record of the top six sides in Serie A last season, it seems as though changes will be made to shore up the backline this summer.

The Rossoneri conceded 46 goals in 38 league games, with Roma and Atalanta having worse defensive records but they also scored significantly more goals than us to finish above us in the standings.

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While we certainly shored things up after the restart as we looked much more organised and solid defensively while also being clinical at the other end of the pitch, there are seemingly changes being made this summer already which could result in a reshuffle in that department.

Exits expected, replacements needed…

As per La Gazzetta dello Sport, it’s reported that Andrea Conti won’t be going anywhere this summer although Milan are in the market for a new right-back, which in turn would suggest that Davide Calabria faces an uncertain future as there is simply little sense in having three top players competing for one spot.

Denzel Dumfries and Serge Aurier are specifically named in that report as possible targets, and so it remains to be seen who arrives to effectively replace Calabria, but also offer us an upgrade in that position.

While Conti has improved this season as he started to put his injury troubles behind him, he suffered a fresh setback at the back-end of the campaign. In contrast, Calabria has continued to struggle to fully convince on a consistent basis, and that in turn could now lead to an exit which importantly would also represent an important capital gain for the club given he’s a youth product.

Elsewhere, MilanNews note how Ricardo Rodriguez could be on his way out to join Torino as an agreement is said to have been agreed, with Milan set to pocket around €3m plus bonuses.

Having spent the second half of last season on loan at PSV Eindhoven, coupled with the fact that Theo Hernandez has now firmly established himself as the first-choice left-back in the squad, it seems like the sensible move from Milan to offload the Swiss international, who has just one year remaining on his current contract.

While it remains to be seen if Diego Laxalt sticks around as the back-up option, if he were to join Rodriguez out of the exit door then that would call for a smart addition to ensure we have enough cover in that position particularly as we will hope to compete on multiple fronts next season and beyond.

Further, as per MilanNews via the paper edition of Tuttosport, it’s noted that one of Mateo Musacchio or Leo Duarte will also potentially be moving on this summer, while it’s reiterated Rodriguez, Laxalt and one of Conti or Calabria could also be set to bid farewell.

While it makes sense to move either Musacchio or Duarte on, perhaps the former ideally given his current deal expires next year albeit his injury could deter any interest, that could leave us short with Alessio Romagnoli, Simon Kjaer and Matteo Gabbia the top three choices in the centre-half positions for Stefano Pioli.

That said, if Milan do move at least three defenders on this summer, they will all have to be replaced to ensure we have enough quality, depth and competition to keep everyone on their toes and to not allow them to get too relaxed over being permanent starters regardless of form.

With that in mind, a right-back, centre-half and left-back could all be on our agenda in the coming weeks and it’s imperative we bring the right profiles in with regards to what they offer on and off the pitch.

Dumfries or Aurier could be one solution as per the La Gazzetta dello Sport report above, but it will be intriguing to see who we target to address the other two positions if we do indeed green light multiple exits. It’s an important few weeks to get this in order as we’ll want to move fast from that point onwards in terms of strengthening other areas too.