Financial fair play, coaching turnover, and transfer target questions. It will be another summer full of questions for AC Milanafter missing out on the Champions League once again. Paolo Maldini looks set to take charge as the technical director and seems to have a plan in place. Marco Giampaolo is all but confirmed to be the team’s next manager, so let’s take a look at the transfer targets Maldini and Giampaolo are rumoured to be after this summer.
The former Sampdoria man will instantly change Milan’s formation. Gennaro Gattuso typically preferred a 4-3-3, but Giampaolo’s preference is the 4-3-1-2. This formation, along with the four-man defence, calls for one deep-lying playmaker (a ‘regista’), two supporting midfielders (the ‘mezzalas’), a creative attacking midfielder (the ‘trequartista’), and two strikers.
All four of his defenders must be comfortable on the ball, as Giampaolo preaches build-up play. The full-backs must be open to going forward but always tracking back.
In the midfield, the regista is responsible for initiating attacks with the mezzalas supporting him. The trequartista is then responsible for finding the two forwards in their movements towards goal.
Joachim Andersen – Centre Back
Calciomercato are reporting that Joachim Andersen is the main target for Giampaolo. Andersen is a rising star familiar to Giampaolo due to his time at Sampdoria. Mateo Musacchio has been underwhelming partnered up with Alessio Romagnoli, while Mattia Caldara continues to struggle with injury.
The Dane has a strong frame for a defender, standing at 6’2″ and weighing in at 90kg. He was Sampdoria’s stand out defender this past season, and his main trait is his passing ability. This, of course, is perfect for Giampaolo’s scheme as Andersen is more than comfortable with the ball at his feet. Andersen completed88.8 % of his passes in Serie A.
Milan Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ivan Gazidis mentioned that Milan would target young, growing players. At 23 years of age, Andersen falls into this category. He is the most realistic and best affordable option for Milan at this position.
Sandro Tonali – Midfielder
Calciomercato have reported on interest from major Italian clubs, like Milan, on Sandro Tonali. Like Andersen, Tonali is another rising star in Italy. He’s actually been touted as the next Andrea Pirlo. This, of course, is what is most attractive to him for Milan fans as Pirlo was the team’s star regista in their stellar years before 2012. Tonali has even been quoted in saying he was a Milan fan.
“My father is a Milanista,” said Tonali. “As a child, I went crazy for the Milan colours and my idol was Gattuso.”
Tonali is currently at Brescia, fresh off a promotion to Serie A. Brescia also use a 4-3-1-2 formation, where Tonali is deployed as the regista. Besides being an Italian with long hair, Tonali is compared to Pirlo due to his great understanding of space and positioning. He knows just where to place himself to get the ball while knowing his teammates’ movements around him. Furthermore, his ability to dribble in tight spaces is that comparable to a seasoned veteran.
His future is bright, and Milan may be the best place for him to grow as his childhood club fights for Champions League once again.
Dennis Praet – Midfielder
Another player Calciomercato reported on having generated Milan’s interest has been Dennis Praet. The Belgian is another one of Giampaolo’s Sampdoria men. Praet can play both the mezzala and trequartista roles. For Milan, he would likely be used primarily as a mezzala. Lucas Paqueta is the obvious choice for trequartista, but Suso can also play the position if he is not sacrificed for Financial Fair Play.
He isn’t a star, but Praet can certainly bring a positive impact. Short passing and lay-offs are where he excels, while often looking for a through pass to set up a striker. Praet only contributed two goals and three assists this past season but completed nearly 88% of his passes.
Praet would be an ideal rotation player. He is more than capable of starting, but would likely welcome an impact sub role for a club like Milan. Linking up once again with Giampaolo makes Milan’s chances of securing this transfer even higher.
Fernando Llorente – Striker
It would be no surprise to see Milan sell Andre Silva to appease Financial Fair Play. This would leave Krzysztof Piątek and Patrick Cutrone as Milan’s strikers, leaving a hole open for a back-up. Calciomercatohave reported on a few Italian teams, including Milan, on having interest in Fernando Llorente.
The Spaniard’s main attribute is his height, making him a major aerial threat. He also excels in hold up play, which would serve a striker like Piatek well. Llorente does not score much, but that shouldn’t be a major issue with proven goal scorers like Piatek and Cutrone around him.
Llorente can possibly leave Tottenham for free, or for a discounted price. If Milan wish to adhere to Financial Fair Play restrictions, this can be a shrewd move.
Marc Cucurella – Left Back
Milan have failed to find an elite left back since Maldini’s retirement in 2009. Cucurella, however, has been making a name for himself in Europe. The 20-year-old is fresh off a stellar loan spell at Eibar in La Liga and is on his way back to Barcelona. Jordi Alba, however, will not be threatened for a spot in the starting 11. This opens opportunities for another loan spell or a permanent sale of Cucurella.
Cucurella has already shown signs of developing into a strong defender, and his electric style of play makes him a threat going forward. As mentioned before, Giampaolo prioritizes full-backs who can and will contribute to the attack. Davide Calabria has already shown this at right back for Milan, so a pairing of him and Cucurella can allow Milan to better build from the back.