Name: Franck Yannick Kessié
Ht/Wt: 6’0” 170 lbs.
Position: Central Midfielder
Parent Club: Atalanta
Kessie became the 2nd signing of a new era at AC Milan when he was unveiled as a 2-year loan player (with an obligation to buy) on June 2nd. The dynamic defensive midfielder had an excellent season at Atalanta netting 6 goals with 4 assists as well. Kessie joined the youth system of Stella Club d'Adjamém, an Ivorian side from Abidjan, at the age of 1. In 10 appearances with the first team (promoted at 17), he netted 3 goals and certainly caught the eye of a few suitors, departing for Atalanta in the winter transfer window in 2014/2015.
Kessie played well enough to earn his first cap with the Cote d'Ivoire at the age of 17, even starting in a 2-1 win over Sierra Leone in the 2015 African Cup of Nations. From there the Ivorian was loaned to Serie B side Cesena for the 2015/2016 season where he netted 4 goals and 2 assists in 36 appearances. After heavily vesting interest in the youngster. Milan were able to pry him away from the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Roma, and Juventus on a 2 year-loan contract with an obligation to buy of €20 million.
Analysis at Milan:
Kessie fills a key role as a box-to-box midfielder that Montella can use defensively if need be. While he assumed a mainly defensive midfield role at Atalanta it’s not likely he’ll continue that role with the Rossoneri. Even his stats suggest he may be more efficient outside of a defensive role with 4 goals and 2 assists as a central defensive midfielder in 23 Serie A appearances vs. 2 goals and an assist in a more dynamic role in the central midfield in 3 Serie A appearances (per Transfermarkt). Now to be fair, that’s not nearly a high enough sample size of games but it’s indicative of what he can do outside of his maiden role. Kessie lacks the whole-hearted aggression to be a true center defensive mid, though he possesses loads of ability in his passing, ambidexterity, long range accuracy and his pace as well.
Look for him to serve in a role at Milan similar to the one played by Pogba for Juventus. All in all, this is an excellent signing as it shows investing in young promising players that can walk in and fill a need, while adding to the potential player overhaul we’ve been promised over the summer transfer period. I’m excited to see what Fassone and Mirabelli do next.