Theo Hernandez continues to show him importance to AC Milan with performances of the highest level, but at the moment it feels like the team cannot do without him.
Calciomercato.com recall how Theo showed his defensive attention against Politano and Lozano in the two legs of the Champions League quarter-final versus Napoli, and then on Sunday against Lecce he looked dangerous going forward.
Theo is an immovable part of Stefano Pioli’s team – on a par with Mike Maignan and Rafael Leao at least – and the decision to renew his deal until June 2026 last year is a clear signal that they want t continue with him for many years.
However, what is equally evident is the absence of a reliable back-up. The left-back has played 37 games since the beginning of the season and featured a lot during the World Cup in between, with Fode Ballo-Touré and Sergino Dest both not offering the necessary guarantees.
The Senegalese full-back has made just nine appearances and is under contract until June 2025, but he has a market in Ligue 1 and Milan will try to sell him for the over €5m invested to sign him in summer 2021.
There is no possibility of a permanent stay for Dest meanwhile who has vanished completely off the radar since his last appearance on January 24 against Lazio.
Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara have been working for some time to identify a player who can serve as a deputy to Theo Hernandez. One of the fundamental requirements though is that they do not come with the pretence of competing for a place with the former Real Madrid man.
This is particularly relevant when it comes to a player like Milos Kerkez, who decided to leave Milan precisely for the reason that he was not close to getting first team starts and now he is shining for AZ Alkmaar.
There is also a preference for the profile to be Italian, to help with UEFA squad list regulations. Antonino Gallo of Lecce and Emanuele Valeri of Cremonese are on the list, as well as Fabiano Parisi of Empoli who has a high valuation and might not accept a back-up role.
There is also the possibility of promoting a player from the Primavera to fill the role, and the candidate who stands out above all is Andrea Bozzolan. He has been a consistent performer in Ignazio Abate’s side and has trained with the senior squad before, after an impressive UEFA Youth League campaign.