Not for the first time since he left us in 2017 after a short loan move, Gerard Deulofeu has been linked with a return to Milan as he has left the door open to a second spell with us.
As noted by MilanNews, the Spaniard has suggested in an interview with Radio Onda Cero that a second stint with the Rossoneri is an option for him this summer as he reiterated that he looks back on his previous spell with us fondly after enjoying a positive period in his career in Italy.
With Watford having suffered relegation this past season, Deulofeu will seemingly be looking for a way out in the coming weeks, and so it remains to be seen if Milan decide to swoop and try to bring him back to San Siro with Stefano Pioli looking to build a competitive squad, which is fifth favourite to win Serie A in the upcoming campaign, according to SBR.
Obvious positives behind move, but concerns too
The 26-year-old joined us on a six-month loan deal in January 2017, and he left after scoring four goals and providing three assists in 18 appearances for the club.
His pace, directness and technical ability on the ball coupled with his work ethic were all impressive characteristics that were on display week in and week out, while his versatility was also crucial as he could play on either flank or up front as a false nine.
Those same positives apply now, and especially as we look for an alternative to Ante Rebic on the left wing and Samu Castillejo on the right, Deulofeu could be a smart addition to give us a different option in those areas and add more pace and skill to our attacking line-up.
Further, his arrival would also perhaps allow Rafael Leao to focus on being a second option up front behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and so there are undoubtedly several key reasons as to why a reunion with Deulofeu makes sense as given Watford’s relegation, that could also weaken their position at the negotiating table.
That said, he did miss the last 10 league games of last season after sustaining cruciate ligament damage in March, and while he’s not expected to return until September, coupled with his time off the pitch which will require hard work to regain match fitness and sharpness to be ready to make a comeback, he won’t be ready for some time.
There is no way of knowing if he comes back and is immediately the same player he was before, and perhaps more worryingly, there are obvious question marks over the risk of re-injuring himself given the seriousness of the previous setback.
That is absolutely something that the Milan hierarchy have to take into consideration if they are open to the idea of a move, and time will tell whether or not that’s a deal breaker if they are genuinely considering Deulofeu as a solution to our lack of quality depth in the final third.
Further, is it an ambitious enough move? While he’s a highly talented player and he showed last time he was with us that he can deliver at the top level, is he really the best option out on the market?
This is a crucial summer for Milan in that we must buy real quality to improve the squad as with the help of three or four new faces, we can build on our finish to last season and seriously compete this year.
Deulofeu could certainly help us do that, but given the position we’re in now, time will tell if Milan can reach a little higher and bring in a top-tier talent this summer to give our attack a serious boost moving forward.