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Franck ‘The Tank’ Kessie: Taking Stock of Milan’s Only Box-to-Box Midfielder

Franck Kessie has been a polarizing figure among Milan fans over his two seasons with the club. Here is my two cents on the 22-year old Ivorian midfielder:

Franck Kessie of Ac Milan in action during the Serie A... Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images

Franck Kessie has been a polarizing figure among AC Milan fans over his two seasons with the club. Here is my two cents on the 22-year old Ivorian midfielder:

Over the course of the year, Kessie has come under fire on numerous occasions for his poor and inconsistent output in the final third. More often than not, Kessie has bottled chances to hit the target and pick out important passes in and around the box. This has led to many calls for the Ivorian to be sold as he seems to have a market in the Premier League and is valued around €40 million. However, I believe Kessie can be a pillar for Milan and should be given the recognition he deserves.

Just yesterday, Kessie dominated a game in the Africa Cup of Nations by providing three assists in a single game to boost Ivory Coast to the round of 16. Kessie played as a defensive midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 but was given the license to roam and support the attack where he thrives. Each of his assists was created when he shifted into the space in the centre just out of the box. Thereafter, he picked out easy short passes to set up goals for his team mates quite selflessly. Kessie constantly demonstrates how much potential he has at just 22 years with over 100 Serie A appearances.

Kessie has played in a box-to-box role for Milan on the right side of the midfield and has alternated between defensive and offensive duties. For Milan, he has been most effective in shutting down play in the midfield and putting pressure on the opposition. He occasionally has great runs forward and helps with the transition play. The scenario where Kessie gets criticised is often when he struggles to effectively distribute the ball in the final third and often he tends to take erratic shots that end up in the stands.

Despite this, what Kessie needs is a coach who can take his raw potential and refine him into a great midfielder. This is exactly what Giampaolo does. The current moment is one where Milan needs midfielders and Milan need a midfield engine who can seamlessly transition between the attack and defense, rather than spending money to acquire someone new, Milan should bestow their faith in Kessie. After all, he has played practically every game over the past two seasons and has been dependable in spite of his rough edges.

Over his past two seasons in a Milan shirt, Kessie has undoubtedly been impactful and a big reason why Milan have found some consistency and growth. He has been the constant fixture in the midfield and has contributed 12 goals in that time especially through penalties. He has been very important is managing the midfield when Milan are under attack. It was always blatantly obvious that Milan struggled in games where Kessie was absent, as the midfield would get overrun without his strength and pressure on opposing players.

Moreover, Kessie helped in the transition of play as he was one of the few players who could charge from one end of the pitch to the other, but his final result was not always good and he needs to improve that. Lastly, in my opinion Kessie is one of the few players alongside Alessio Romagnoli and Tiémoué Bakayoko who stepped up in big games and went toe-to-toe with Juventus, Napoli and the other top teams. Kessie scored twice against Lazio this season, scored against AS Roma and stepped up on the final day with a brace and an assist. His mentality is important and quite hard to find at such a young age. Overall, Kessie is arguably one of the pillars of the new Milan side and should get the respect he deserves despite his flaws.

Decision making, Composure and Finishing are the major points where improvement is needed but watching Kessie at the Africa Cup of Nations has shown that small tweaks to the way he is managed and deployed put him in a better position to achieve these goals. Kessie would do amazing under Giampaolo just as he burst onto the scene with Gasperini, thus he deserves our faith.


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