Kit # - 7
Position: Right-wing. Can also play left-wing and occasionally through the center.
Strengths: It would appear that Castillejo is yet another player who read the Arjen Robben “how to beat your defender and score” guidebook. The Spaniard is known for cutting into his left foot and unleashing curling strikes at goal. Castillejo also possesses quick feet and good acceleration, allowing him to have deep runs into the opposition's half. In other words, he’s a speedier version of Suso.
Weaknesses: While his runs and dribbles are generally good, Castillejo needs to improve on his final ball. As it stands Suso is a better finisher and crosser than his compatriot. In fact, in the press conference where Castillejo was unveiled as a Milan player, the defender said, “Suso is a great player and is a reference point for everyone. I don’t want to compete with anyone, I want to give my all for Milan whom I thank for the confidence.”
Adapting to the Serie A is another hurdle the young winger will have to overcome and it may take a bit of time for him to get used to Italian defenses.
Form: Castillejo started 30 games, scoring 6 times and provided 7 assists for the Yellow Submarine last season. Additionally, the former U-21 Spanish international led the way for his club, attempting over 100 dribbles for Villareal and successfully completing 47 of them. If all goes well for Castillejo, we can see him challenge Suso for a starting position.
Kit # - 93
Position: Left-back, left full-back, lef....basically anywhere on the left!
Strengths: Versatility is the name of the game for Laxalt. At 25 years of age and plying his trade for 5 seasons in Italy, Laxalt should be a veteran of the league by now. The Uruguayan also possesses strength and pace in his list of attributes.
Mention should also be made that Laxalt had initially signed for Inter back in 2010 but was quickly dumped into a series of loan moves. The player would eventually find his way at Genoa after years of footballing development hell. Having now been given a real chance by Milan, Laxalt will no doubt relish the shot at revenge on Inter for never taking him seriously.
Weaknesses: Besides having a name that sounds as if he is a Star Wars villain, the only major stumbling block for Laxalt is the competition he faces. For the position of left-back, Ricardo Rodriguez had a solid first season at Milan and would most likely continue in the starting role. Added to that, Milan acquired Croatia’s Ivan Strinic on a free this summer who is an equally capable defender.
Barring injuries to these two, Laxalt would find himself having to work hard in training, as well as make himself known when given the chance if he is to become a regular starter. This argument is also true if Gattuso decides to use Laxalt as a winger, as we already have Bonaventura and Calhanoglu as capable contenders in left midfield.
Form: For Genoa, Laxalt played an instrumental role in helping the Rossoblu out of the relegation zone into a 12th placed Serie A finish.
Laxalt has also come off a good run at the 2018 World Cup, helping Uruguay to reach the quarterfinals of the competition. His standout game was against Portugal where he shut down any Portuguese attacks on the left. And yes, that’s the same Portugal a little player called Cristiano Ronaldo plays for.
Kit # - 14
Position: Defensive-midfield, regista, central-midfield
Strengths: While at Monaco, the young French midfielder learned from the then staff coach, Claude Makelele; arguably the best defensive midfielder to play the game. As such Bakayoko was promised to become a DM stalwart. Physically, the player is imposing. He makes a lot of interceptions and is a strong tackler. He’s also quick for a big guy and can read the game well, able to build up the play with accurate passing and the occasional dribble. Think of a younger version of Yaya Toure
Weaknesses: He’s not the finished article just yet. While Bakayoko shows a lot of promise, his torrid season at Chelsea shows that he has much to do if he is to make the DM position his own. He has to improve on his short passing and he can switch off in big moments when under pressure or after making a mistake. Fortunately, Bakayoko will get Gattusso, another ex-midfield general, to help improve his confidence and ability as a player.
Form: Let’s all be honest. Bakayoko had a terrible season at Chelsea, eventually getting dropped by Conte. Kid needs to step his game up and prove to everyone he’s not a flop.
So now that you know a bit more about our new signings, do you think they have what it takes to be first choice starters? Will Castillejo be a hit or a miss? Does Laxalt’s name really sound sound that bad? Will Bakayoko flop again, or will this be his time to shine? Do share your thoughts!