Christopher Penn’s weekly column
The season is here. Gattuso vs Ancelotti. Napoli vs AC Milan. A titanic clash to begin our campaign.
The rumours of Gattuso’s new season line up have been circulating through the Calcio pages of the Italian papers, speculating Borini or Bonaventura to start as LW. Is a front three the right approach for the quick, clinical Napoli?
A name always on the starting team sheet, and rightly so for his stats is Suso. One of my favourite left feet in the world. That goal against Udinese last season – just superb.
But are we restricted by Suso? His statistics are downright impressive – last season he was involved (scored or assisted) in 13 goals in 35 league appearances. The year before – 16 in 34.
Fans have argued that Gattuso should deploy him elsewhere on the pitch. With the departures of Andre Silva and Nikola Kalinic, Milan have two registered forwards – Gonzalo Higuain and Patrick Cutrone. But could Suso be the third? Especially if a two-up-top formation was deployed.
Last season Suso made 3 appearances as a forward, where he averaged 1.7 key passes and 3.3 shots per a match, however registered no successful dribbles. That being said he did score in the 3-2 defeat to Inter when Montella was testing the 3-5-2 formation.
What about in a central attacking midfielder role? In 5 appearances as an AMC, his role as a youngster for Liverpool, he averaged 2.2 key passes and 1.8 shots per a game. In this position he registered 2.2 successful dribbles per a game. Again in this role he netted once.
But Gattuso seems set on playing a wide, expansive game which has been so fruitful in the past. There are no arguments from me against this, and some of the new additions will benefit this style and approach. And just maybe having someone like Higuain in the side feeding off Suso, we might see the Spainard’s best season in the red and black. Just look at the impact he has on that right side last season. He achieved 2.5 key passes, 2.8 shots and 2.7 successful dribbles per a game.
With Napoli and Roma up first, the onus is on the experienced Milan players like Suso to deliver and push us towards the wins.