Necessary vs. destabilising: The case for and against Milan signing a striker in January

By Oliver Fisher -

There has been a lot written in the past few days and weeks regarding AC Milan’s attacking department and in particular whether another striker is needed to bolster the options available.

Today’s edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport analysed Luka Jovic’s ‘perfect month’, in which the Serbian striker has radically changed his status within Stefano Pioli’s squad, scoring five goals in 15 games and above all averaging one goal every 115 minutes.

The brace scored against Cagliari in the Coppa Italia – his first for the Rossoneri – came after goals against Frosinone, Atalanta and Salernitana. With it, he has become the hottest striker in Italy, at least in one way.

From the beginning of December to today, nobody has done better than him domestically as Jovic is in fact the only Serie A player who has scored five goals across all competitions in the last thirty days.

Have Jovic’s exploits in the last month also changed the hierarchies in the first striker role? Not yet, given that Pioli still seems to consider Giroud Milan’s starting striker starting from the next match against Empoli.

The real question, however, is related to the mercato. With two reliable strikers already present in the squad, will Milan be better off looking for a new striker for January? Let’s analyse two possible scenarios by trying to read Geoffrey Moncada and Antonio D’Ottavio’s strategy in advance.

Why a striker is needed

Before finalising the last-minute signing of Jovic from Fiorentina on the final day of the summer window, Milan tried various options from Alvaro Morata to Gianluca Scamacca, passing through Armando Broja and Mehdi Taremi, then with late attempts for Rafa Mir and Jonathan David.

Arriving at Milanello with the label of ‘last choice’, Jovic took some time to get comfortable and above all to get himself back to a passable physical condition, given Fiorentina made it clear in preseason he was not a part of their plans.

Pioli used unusual methods with Luka and the more he struggled the more the coach offered him opportunities. A management style that worked, guaranteeing Jovic confidence that today the Serbian is repaying with interest.

However, these five goals – all scored in the last month – perhaps also show that consistency is not exactly a strong point for Jovic who risks suddenly falling into the abyss, especially when Giroud returns to play regularly in the league and Europa League.

Two strikers for three competitions also risk being too few, especially for an ambitious club like Milan who – at least in words – promises to try play a leading role on every different front they compete in.

Precisely for this reason, considering Jovic a reliable centre-forward only on the basis of the last thirty days could be a mistake, especially because doing so would not take into consideration the other four months in which there were zero returns.

This is why Milan could arguably be better off trying to invest immediately in the January market for the purchase of a new striker capable – thanks to the co-presence of Jovic and Giroud – of settling in without too much pressure.

Then, there would be a ‘passing of the baton’ type moment ahead of 2024-25 when this new (presumably younger) striker is fully adapted, with Giroud’s contract set to expire and a renewal far from a certainty.

Furthermore, the presence of another player in that position would guarantee Pioli an always useful third option, especially given the injury woes this season, which someone like Noah Okafor could have been.

However, the Swiss forward is seen more as a deputy to Rafael Leao or a second striker and he has struggled to stay fit for long stretches. Then, of course, there is the possibility Jovic gets injured too.

Jonathan David of Lille remains the name circled in red for June, as per that report from La Gazzetta, but if the January transfer window offers opportunities within the budget’s reach, the management will be ready to seize them.

That’s why Serhou Guirassy remains on the list. The 27-year-old from Stuttgart has scored 19 goals in 16 games and is used to playing in both 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1, the two formations adopted by Pioli this season.

The €17m release clause is affordable, but the €5m net salary requested by the player gives pause for thought, especially after the abolition of the Growth Decree which would leave the Rossoneri having to pay a gross of over €9m per season for him.

Given his age, form and his release clause, the Guinea international represents one of the classic ‘opportunities’ that the management might later regret not taking.

The case for Jovic

The penalty against Fiorentina at the end of November seems to have set off a sort of spark in Jovic’s head, who after difficult months has finally found confidence in his abilities. From then on, the Serbian striker actually changed his attitude on the pitch, producing the numbers of top-level players.

Jovic’s rebirth is therefore there for all to see and like any striker on such a hot streak he shouldn’t be taken off the pitch. The last 30 days suggest that the internal hierarchies at Milan could also change with Giroud, who hasn’t scored a home league goal since August.

The Frenchman is now 37 and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s final season with the club showed that time spares nobody. The feeling is his performances are slightly down compared to the beginning of the season, which is understandable given the amount of overtime he has worked.

The football season is in fact also made up of choices but above all of moments to manage: the current one suggests to Milan and Pioli that they need to continue giving faith to Jovic while he is hot, because changing a winning formula is risky.

This is why the possible addition of a centre-forward in the January transfer market could represent a brake being slammed on Jovic’s growth, increasing the competition from a department that currently appears balanced.

There is the presence of a veteran like Giroud, who seems capable of putting the good of the team above his own especially with where he is at in his career, plus a still young and very hungry player like Jovic who is back to replicating his Eintracht Frankfurt numbers.

This is why inserting a destabilising agent during this season could represent a double-edged sword, because whoever comes in would need time to adapt and if they do not quickly give the same production as Jovic, it wouldn’t be long before the media labelled it a mistake.

Moreover, there is the economic issue to consider. For example, signing a striker would take away budget from other departments such as the defence and midfield, which arguably have more pressing needs.

Regarding the striker position itself, if Milan act too quickly to seize a financially accessible solution rather than waiting until the summer market – one easier to do business in – to invest in the centre-forward they really believe in, that could lead to the wrong profile arriving.


We do not envy the positions of Geoffrey Moncada and his team here. They are juggling multiple different decisions, each of which they must get right.

Firstly they must decide whether a striker is really needed, then they must establish how that would impact the spending power on other departments, and finally they must ensure that whoever comes in is a) affordable and b) can contribute quickly.

As Brutus says to Cassius in Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’, ‘There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune’. Moncada and co. must determine whether the tide is right.

Tags AC Milan


  1. If the management thinks we have a shot at the scudetto, you have to get a target man.

    I think it’s clear we no longer do, but are heavy, heavy favorites to be in the top 4, so might as well just wait till summer.

    1. Obviously we isn’t favorites and it wont be easy but the chance is nevertheless still there even if slim. Its fair to downplay our chances but if our players were of the view that everything was already over it would be a sign of lacking winning mentality and football can quickly change over a few games.
      I’ll say we are most definitely still in it but is it likely to happen probably not but we”ll keep fighting and believing in it untill its mathematically impossible or we lift the scudetto.

  2. The only reason you sign a striker this January is if you have an opportunity to sign the striker you envision to be the present and the future of the club. Signing a striker just for the sake of signing someone is pointless.. Your coach isn’t someone who implements new players into the lineup right away. I don’t know why is that the case, because it’s not like he has some complex tactics. It’s all based on 1v1 players’ individual ability, not a team concept play.

    “Precisely for this reason, considering Jovic a reliable centre-forward only on the basis of the last thirty days could be a mistake, especially because doing so would not take into consideration the other four months in which there were zero returns.”

    How much playing time did he actually get the previous 3 months, not 4, because he was signed on September 1st?
    People expect the back up , who gets 10-15 minutes every other week to perform well. Players need continuity. Pioli barely played him. Maybe that was because he wasn’t in physical shape, but the man got signed with the season already 2 weeks in, he missed all of pre season, coming to a new team with new teammates. Takes time to get in sync with your new teammates especially if you are a striker.
    Milan doesn’t need a new striker this January. You got Giroud and Jovic, and if something happens to them you have Okafor and Leao that should play there. Don’t care if Leao likes or not to play as a striker, you going to do what the team needs you to do. I bet Theo would rather play his LB position instead of CB. Same with Florenzi playing LB instead of his natural RB position.
    You sign the new striker in collaboration with the new coach based on his style of play.
    A defensive minded midfielder is more of a need than a striker.
    Milan has plenty of defenders. The 3 injured one’s will come back 1 by 1 in the next 2 months. In the meantime you playing once a week and have Kjaer, Simic, Gabbia, Pellegrino and Theo as emergency.
    People counting out Pellegrino after the kid played only 1 game where he didn’t start, but he came in during the game and was injured during the same game. He made one mistake. Give the kid a chance before you discard him.
    At the same time, people cry after Tonali, who was a*s for the whole 1st season at Milan.

  3. We ABSOLUTELY NEED a striker – BUT – not sure January is the time to do it. It’s NOT because I believe we are covered with Jovic. Hardly. You cannot say after ONE decent month (and I say decent because his brace was scored against Cagliari in the Coppa Italia – and the others were against Frosinone, Atalanta and Salernitana. Hardly top level teams and let’s also be honest 2 of them were fortunate) that we are covered in that position. One injury to Giroud and we are cooked. Nice to see Jovic playing better but he has to put together months of consistently to say we are covered.

    The problem is buying in January usually doesn’t work. The choices are limited and you usually end up overpaying. In this winter window the choices are very limited and none offer guarantees (Guiassy, Adams, David, etc…) – none are proven CONSISTENT strikers that we need. All are question marks. So we may blow HALF of our summer budget (35M) on an unproven player. Hmmmmm

    We should ask why we are in this mess in the first place??? Answer – GEORGIO. We had ample opportunities to get a striker at a decent price – and we passed on all of them. Lukaku was there as was Taremi etc…just to name a few low cost options that WOULD have helped and maybe we would have qualified for UCL knockout stages with one of them. But of course we went the cheap route and took Jovic who nobody wanted. We absolutely had the money to sign other players as well – Openda, Balogun etc…BUT instead Georgie spent 48M on 2 backup players – Chukuweze and Musah. Brilliant. It cost us the UCL knockout stages and may cost us top 4. Penny pinching always comes back to get you.

    Let’s also be honest – do we really think Redbird will spend 20M in January on a player??? Ya sure. We all know how this will go. Gabbia arrived and we will roll w Simic and Theo as CB’s and unless Krunic leaves that may be it. We couldn’t even afford 3M for Miranda. Ya I know we have Jimenez now right so who needs Miranda! Ya that’s until Real takes him back like they did w Diaz. Why because they have $$ and aren’t stupid. Wait Bastraghi is the savior lol. Whoever said we don’t need a striker cause we have Columbo is probably the funniest thing I have ever heard. Ya sure if your ambition is to finish 8th each season I’d let Columbo lead the line when Giroud leaves lol.


    1. While I agree with a lot of the spirit of your post, Leao trying to backheel that goal against Newcastle is why we are not in the CL still. Chuku very much deserves to be on the fans’ crosshairs, he has not been good, but in the champions league he has been one of the better performers per time played and a big reason why are still in Europe at all.

    2. So 48 mil were wasted on 2 backups that cost Milan the UCL knockout stages and may cost Milan top 4?
      Well in that case you should add the other 20 mil they wasted to pay for Leao’s debt over the summer.
      Chuck BTW scored 1 more goal in that same UCL than Leao who missed several chances that knocked Milan out of UCL.
      Chuck goal at least qualified Milan for the Europa league after Leao missed 1 on 1 with the GK, again.
      But that doesn’t fit the narrative

      1. Not surprising you didn’t understand the point. I am also surprised you didn’t blame us missing out on the knock out stages on Maldini LOL. Had we spent that 48M – or even 28M on a reliable striker I believe we would have qualified well before the last game against Newcastle. Get it yet?

        1. If your guy Leao was reliable, Milan would have qualified with just Giroud as a striker.
          How did Leao performed? Better or worse than Musah and Chukwueze?
          Kinda funny how you wanna talk about everything and anything, even the price of tea in China, but you seem to be quiet when it comes how your guy Leao has failed to perform up to what its expected from him based on salary and status at the club.
          The last 2 seasons the excuse for Leao was that he doesn’t get help from the right side. He gets help on the right side this season, and the new excuse for his failures is the striker now.
          BTW both Milan strikers have outperformed Leao.
          Get it yet?

    3. Musah will turn out to be a very good signing. He just turned 21, has already stared a number of games and played valuable minutes for this team. He’s performed well and will only get better. Not to mention he runs harder than anyone else on the team. If everyone on the team put in as much effort as this kid does we would be just fine.
      And thank God they did not bring Lukaku in to this team.

      1. I actually like Musah and agree he will be a solid player in the future. He has a fantastic work ethic and hopefully will get better in his distribution and control. That being said, with the limited budget we have/had – spending 20M of it on a backup player is a luxury we really couldn’t afford to make. That was the point. Nothing against Musah, but he isn’t starting over Reindjers, Benny, RLC – so he is a back up. 20M was a lot (FOR US) to spend on a backup player when we had many other needs – that was the point

        1. If we want to compete for trophies we are going to need quality depth. All the top teams have it. ANd especially at Milan with all of the injuries, it was a necessity.

  4. Still nobody in the management is taking the absence of a Kessie seriously enough. He went away two years ago and we still have not replaced him properly. Playing disqualified players in his position and even changing up the whole formation in his absence. What a mess.

  5. I completely agree with the sentiment of not buying a striker just to buy a striker. I would prefer to wait until the summer so we get the guy we want. However, what if Giroud gets hurt? We then just have Jovic and Okafor maybe. It’s definitely a tough situation. I wish we could recall Colombo like we did Gabbia, but it’s more beneficial for his development to play at Monza this year. I finally watched Guirassy play and I think he’s quality but that wage is too high for our cheap owners.

    I feel we need to invest in a true DM first and foremost though (maybe Amrabaat). Then, another fullback. I’m sorry but Calabria is a backup at best.

  6. We need a striker and we also don’t need one. In one way we need to succession plan for Giroud. He’s not going to be young forever and he’s already lost a step in pace this year as well as declining further in hold up play ability. This doesn’t mean he can’t score. He’s still of a good quality you don’t find easily these days. That’s not to say you don’t go looking for his replacement. Its either one of two options, get a young cheap talent and groom him or just spend so big that the new player will most likely displace him (eg Oshimen, Vlahovic). I’d like to go with the second, more guaranteed option instead of wasting yet another 20m on ‘hope’ again. Its a position a club takes a serious view to invest.
    In the meantime for our current situation I’d like to see how Jovic turns out instead of a mediocre poorly planned splash on a player that’s not going to work (I don’t even consider Okafor anymore because of his injury status and history….another wonderful work by our team….spent most of $130m on injury prone players smh). If he does well that’s a great problem to have. I have a feeling unless Colombo wins capocannonaire then he’s not going to be considered long term at Milan so it’s Jovic and an ageing Giroud next year (assuming he renews).

  7. This is simple.

    You only buy a striker if you can get one of the top 5 young strikers in world football to come, OR if you can get one of the top 5 established strikers to come, like Kane, Haaland, Lewandowski.

    Otherwise…..NO. You do not buy another striker for Milan, who is a “prospect”, and probably never makes to Giroud’s current level. Few ever do make Giroud’s level of clinicality.

    1. Yes, you again stay with Giroud and Jovic and pray no one gets injured, in a team with a billion injuries. Some of you people really need some basic IQ put in the head…

  8. Should’ve spend 25 on Scamacca when they had a chance. Retegui was available for half of that. I think they’ll be ok in attack, there’s Okafor coming back and in urgency even Leao can step up and play up front.

    What they do need is a proper DM and not that Betis guy or some low moneyball signing but actual and quality DM – Koopmeiners, Ricci, Amrabat.

    They never replaced the missing key role of Kessie although analysis shows Musah is the closest player to Kessie in terms of play and characteristics. I do believe with proper guidance, Musah could become a Kessie/Kante type of player. He has that energy.

    1. idk what your issue is. Milan have 3 ST who have 14 goals between them. Now i looked up the top 6 teams of seria a and how their ST are doing and ohohoh, only inter is doing better with 23 goals between 4 ST. And ofc the lion share of that is Martinez and his 15 goal count..

      So yeah i will say it a million times.








      1. How many strikers does Inter have? And Juventus? And Milan? You’re a clown dude. You always look at the 100% wrong things. Which 3 ST does Milan have? You are counting Camarda? 😀

      2. If I remember correctly Inter has Lautaro, Thuram + Arnautovic and Sanchez as backups. That is why they are first and Milan is 9 points behind. These are footballing basics, having enough players to play in 3 competitions. Having 2 strikers for one position is for special people. So are you so it goes well together.

        1. They play 352 meaning each forward has one backup. They’re lucky with injuries because if two of their forwards get injuried, they’re without backups.

          We on the other hand have one backup (Jović) for lone forward (Giroud) with Okafor and Leao able to step in if necessary.

  9. I’m a bit lost to be honest.

    It’ impossible to keep up with the comings and goings at the club.

    I don’t know, let’s start with what we have:

    – a first team squad of about 31 (if we go off the players used this season);

    – a ton of players injured;

    – about 4 players who can play CF (Giroud, Jovic, Okafor and Leao);

    – a huge prospect coming through;

    – another prospect out on loan (do we just give up on Colombo?);

    – a Champions League elimination that basically came down to missed chances in two games;

    – the usual problems with dropped points against teams we should be beating.

    I am never going to say no to a striker because basically a striker is usually the difference between winning and losing a game.

    Part of the many infuriating things about this summer is that we wasted so much time, effort and money on every other position except the one that would’ve made all of the difference (especially with Ibrahimovic retiring).

    But how we can add a striker to this mess?

    How can we do anything with this mess?

    We need to figure out what the hell is going on with injuries.

    We need to get the squad down to a manageable size.

    We need to figure out how we can leave room for Camarda to breath.

    We need to figure out what the hell is going on with Colombo.

    We need to figure out a transition plan for Giroud.

    We need to figure out if Jovic can continue doing a job.

    We have a lot to figure out. Which is absolutely farcical if you think we only lifted the Scudetto a couple of seasons ago with a young squad.

    What a mess.

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