Vincenzo Montella was officially unveiled as Milan's manager at a press conference at Casa Milan on Thursday, and while most of his comments seemed to toe the line between trope and cliche, he did have something interesting to say about Milan striker M'Baye Niang.
Montella waxed poetically about all the usual stuff -- how excited he is to be here, how great Silvio Berlusconi is, and how he wants to return Milan back to Europe. However ,when questioned about which player he is most excited to work with, Montella responded with an interesting answer:
"Amongst the players I can't wait to meet is Niang. He's a very important player that can give more"
This certainly appears to be a rather significant change in strategy from Milan, as Niang looked certain to depart the club during the summer transfer window. In the January transfer window, reports were flying in from multiple sources about how eventual Premier League champions Leicester City,and West Ham were after the French striker, and how Milan were open to selling their starlet. While those reports never materialized, Sky reported just a couple weeks ago that Milan had decided to sell Niang to the highest bidder, and that his days with Milan looked to be numbered. It appears as though the arrival of Montella has changed the scenario, and if we are to believe Mr. Montella, it would be quite a surprise if Niang departs the Rossoneri this summer.
Montella also confirmed that he would play a formation with 4 defenders and 3 midfielders, and based on his track record it seems as though Milan will play either a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1; both formations with a lone striker. With the arrival of Gianluca Lapadula, and the apparent importance of Niang to Montella's system, it seems as though the rumors linking Bacca to a Milan departure are more than just talk.
There's no doubt that Montella's comments about Niang will delight Milanisti, as the young striker has become a fan favourite with his trickery, pace, and infectious personality. Niang is coming off of a great season in which he scored 8 goals in 19 games, before missing the majority of the second half of the season through injury. His absence coincided with Milan taking a tumble in the table, as they were desperately missing their pacey goalscorer.
The fact that Montella has spoken glowingly of Niang is also a positive indicator that Montella will employ a younger more exciting team, and with names like Marko Pjaca and Mateo Kovacic getting linked to Milan by the hour, this transfer window looks very promising for Milanisti.