The biggest issue facing the Milan management at present is finding the right profile and the right deal to reinforce the attacking department.
Calciomercato.com reports that there are numerous profiles that Paolo Maldini is considering to replace Calhanoglu, who left for Inter. In particular it seems that Josip Ilicic of Atalanta, Nikola Vlasic of CSKA Moscow and James Rodriguez of Everton have been linked above all.
Regarding the former, Gian Piero Gasperini has now said publicly that he will be allowed to leave, but Atalanta want €8m and Milan do not want to go above €3m, but they intend to attempt the lunge towards the middle of August. In Maldini’s plans, Ilicic is more of a right winger and his arrival – which is also linked to the departure of Castillejo – does not exclude that of a No.10.
James Rodriguez’s statements yesterday caused a lot of intrigue, as the Colombian said: “Which league would I like to play in? First of all, where they want me. Serie A would be a good option, but I don’t know what will happen in the future. I played in Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, here in England… only Italy is missing.”
The former Real Madrid star is not part of Benitez’s plans, nor is Everton part of his and his price is around €6m, a figure certainly within the reach of Milan for a player who has had many injury problems in recent years.
Then there is Vlasic, who also seems to be pushing for a move. The words of Beresutski – the CSKA coach – on July 20 seem to show that his future could be away from Russia: “Everyone knows Vlasic’s situation, Nikola has said many times that he wants to change clubs and play at a higher level.”
The 23-year-old Croatian also wants Milan and the Rossoneri have already made an offer to CSKA, but it was rejected. In the meantime, Zenit are now leading the race but the great rivalry of the two clubs complicates the deal. Milan have no intention of paying the €35m release clause for Vlasic but are willing to invest a significant amount in him, on a loan with option to buy deal.
Hakim Ziyech of Chelsea remains the favourite target for Maldini and Massara, and the excellent relations they have with the leadership of Chelsea could favour the deal. The Moroccan is not considered essential by Thomas Tuchel and can leave, while Milan would like to loan him with an option to buy and a buy-back set above €25m.
There is one thing that unites these four players: their tactical flexibility. All four can either play in the role of pure attacking midfielder, behind Ibrahimovic or Giroud, or starting from the right wing and drifting in. The idea could therefore be precisely to sign a player who can play for the starting position in the centre with Brahim Diaz, but also who can take over from Saelemaekers during the game.
Milan have in mind two types of operation: either a small investment like James Rodriguez or Ilicic that wouldn’t rule out another arrival, or an important investment for the future like Ziyech or Vlasic.