The season is upon us and today we will start the season preview series for the club. In addition to Manuel Locatelli, Giacomo Bonaventura, Ricardo Montolivo, Jose Mauri, Niccolo Zanellato, and Jose Sosa, Milan brought in a slew of new signings including two new midfielders: Franck Kessi and Lucas Biglia. Let's dive into Milan's new core and engine room.
PLAYERS SOLD: JURAJ KUCKA, ANDREA POLI, ANDREA BERTOLACCI (Loan), KEISUKE HONDA
PLAYERS PURCHASED: LUCAS BIGLIA, FRANCK KESSIE
PLAYERS CALLED UP: NICCOLO ZANELLATO
Milan’s youth academy is undoubtedly one of the greatest in the world. With stars like Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, and Alessandro Costacurta all learning their trade in the Rossoneri’s Academy, it's no surprise that talented players like Manuel Locatelli have left the Primavera to thrive in Milan's first team.
While not as famous as Gianluigi Donnraumma, Locatelli has surely begun to leave his mark. The Italian is a central midfielder who plays the role of a deep lying playmaker. The Midfielder's ability to pinpoint passes coupled with his composed possession on the ball allows the Italian to control the tempo of the game. Even though Locatelli prefers to play in front of the defense, he is skilled at playing a central midfielder role and is capable of diving into tackles.
Locatelli is a towering six-feet tall but is not an aerial threat—something that he will undoubtedly need to work on in the coming years. The midfielder must also work on his pace and strength as he is an easy target to push off the ball. He is, of course, just 19 years old and has time on his side to nullify the weaknesses in his game.
With two goals in the 16/17 season—one of them a sublime strike leading Milan to victory against Juventus— Locatelli also has the potential to be a clinical goalscorer. Indeed, one can expect Locatelli to reach Donnarumma level status after this season is over.
Arguably one of the most illustrious Milan players of the last two years, Bonaventura is a floater who is capable of playing CAM, CDM, LM, and RM. His shrewdness on and off the ball creates spaces to be exploited by himself and his fellow players. He has a knack for assisting and scoring goals— netting himself a solid 9 goals and 10 assists in the last two seasons as per Whoscored.com. Bonaventura's long range shot and explosive runs make him particularly valuable and, not to mention, he is known to be a leader on the pitch. While not exceptional in any way, ‘Jack's’ presence in the midfield should be an asset for a rebirthing Milan side.
The former captain of Milan is also a very versatile player who is capable of playing anywhere in the midfield but prefers a deep-lying player maker role. Montolivo is capable of a great passing and shooting range. Furthermore, Montolivo has a great work ethic and an ability to break down opposition attacks. Of course, Montolivo is well beyond his glory days. He is frequently dubbed as inconsistent and slow. Indeed, Montolivo will, most likely, not aid Milan as some of its new and youthful players will step up and (hopefully) run the show.
Mauri is somewhat of a wildcard. While not as well known as some of his counterparts, when given a chance the Argentine is a bit rough around the edges but occasionally shows a flair of promise. Mauri didn't exactly perform too well on his loan to Empoli last season but may exhibit his ability in the upcoming season.
Another product of Milan's youth academy, Zanellato may follow the footsteps of Donnarumma and Locatelli in illustrating Milan's youth prowess. Zanellato is known to be creative and intelligent on the ball. He has a sublime first touch, great fitness and strength, and an ability to thrive under pressure. He is an aerial threat and hits Pirlo-esque passes. He can effectively build attacking plays and may also have a breakout season if given the opportunity from Montella.
According to ESPN in 18 games Jose Sosa banked 3 assists and 24 shots—but no goals— in the 16/17 season for Milan. Sosa does have strong suites when playing but will most likely find himself on the bench this season in light of the recent additions.
The defensive midfielder netted 6 goals and 4 assists during last season for Atlanta according to Whoscored.com. Kessi satisfies Milan's need for strength and grit while also offering more scoring prowess. Kessi reads the game well but plays the ball even better with exceptional passing range and even better pace to breeze past opponents. Kessi has a flair for intelligently distributing the ball in the final third and, at 20 years old, continues Milan's trend of investing in the future. If Montella can groom Kessi in the upcoming years, the Ivorian can become a force to be reckoned with.
Biglia's signing essentially means Montolivo is done for. Biglia, like other midfielders on the list, is more than capable of distributing. Indeed, the Argentine is responsible for Atlanta's promising 4th place finish. When needed, Biglia is a promising defender. Also when needed, Biglia turns up the pace to construct attacking plays and is even able to crack a shot. If Milan is going to be successful this year, they need someone with Biglia's vision to dictate the pace of the game. Not to mention, Biglia can add experience to a young midfield that lacks the wisdom of a veteran player.
All in all, it seems Milan is well equipped for the upcoming season.
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