AC Milan have completed the signing of Pierre Kalulu from Lyon on a bosman. The defender is a young and versatile addition to the squad and will be a key depth player next season. He was also tracked by Bayern Munich but Milan managed to complete the signing.
The most exciting characteristic of Kalulu has to be his versatility. The defender featured more as a centre back in the UEFA Youth League this past season however he has played as a right back for the France U19 and U20 sides. Kalulu is still young and has the opportunity to find his true position at Milan, he might resemble what we saw from Leo Duarte earlier this season rotating between the two positions. Kalulu is an extremely capable defender who can handle both positions with relative ease. He goes into the attacking gear well when at RB but remains a tall and imposing CB when defending.
Pace and Agility
One of Kalulu’s major assets is his pace. He has an unreal acceleration which he uses to kick start attacks after a turnover in play. His pace has helped him when he plays as a RB back as he often easily sprints down the pitch and this will be a major trait for him to use to break into the starting eleven. Kalulu is also very agile as he is good at finding space to manipulate and break out into. Moreover, he is very confident when making pinpoint tackles and turns over the play well. One noticeable part of his play is his intense covering play where he tracks back tirelessly especially after set pieces or losses of possession.
Long Passing and Vision
One aspect that I would like to see develop further at Milan is his long passing. Kalulu seems to have very good vision and can be the type of centre back who can break the lines with his passing. This is one of the aspects that made Simon Kjaer so successful this season and is one of the traits that Leonardo Bonucci is often praised for. Kalulu has the potential to emulate the two players and offer an important dimension to Milan’s play in the future. His passing has looked solid but his ability to attempt and pull off the long passes should excite any Milan fan.
Kalulu stands at 6 feet and is an extremely physical defender. He has what I would call an ‘elegant physicality’ where he looks very similar to Tiemoue Bakayoko as he manages to poach the ball from the opposition by leveraging his physical strength to throw off the opposing player. The method of his tackling and defensive play is very clever as he does not get goaded into tackles and cheap bookings but rather plays cleverly using his strength at the correct moment. He is also able to dominate in the air but there are not many examples of this as the type of football being played in the UEFA Youth League is largely on the ground.
Tight Marking and Early Pressing
Now to the juicy bit, Kalulu has a tremendous understanding of the game and is good at reading the game and anticipating the moves of the opposition. One reason that may explain why Milan went for him is that he resembles the type of pressing we have seen from Kjaer and Gabbia in recent weeks where he drives up to the midfield to press the opposition to limit their ability to control the game and to turn. He is very good at marking his man and not losing players on the turn. His pressing is a thing of beauty and will allow him to push to be in the rotation at centre back next season.
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