Forward thinking: A deep dive into AC Milan’s long-term striker candidates

By Ben Dixon -

AC Milan have been extensively linked with signing a new striker in the near future and with that, it makes sense to take a deep dive into the potential options that could spearhead the Rossoneri over the next few years.

The elephant in the room is Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman is only 13 goals away from entering Milan’s top 30 scorers of all time. It seems he may not reach that target, with his contract expiring at the end of the season and talks yet to start, given the interest in an MLS move from him and the league itself.

Whilst the veteran has faced controversy about his selection over Luka Jovic recently, the facts are clear: he has been a consistent scorer for the Rossoneri, and his goals need replacing with a new, youthful talisman.

RedBird’s ‘Moneyball’ approach has its benefits, but, if the club are to excel and performances are to improve, there needs to be a significant investment into a new forward (admittedly there has been for a few years now), that can lead the line for several years.

So, with that in mind, let’s dive into the characteristics and names that could bring a new lease of life to the Diavolo’s forward line.

The factors

It goes without saying, but the new striker has to be a goalscorer. The Rossoneri haven’t had a striker score 20 goals in a Serie A season since Zlatan Ibrahimovic did in the 2011-12 season.

Whilst it isn’t impossible that Giroud could hit 20 this season, if he does it will change little about the need for a long-term option. It would be naive, however, to ignore other factors.

Firstly, there is a need to be able to interlink play, either with the wingers, the midfielders or another striker, should Milan hire a coach who uses two strikers.

Milan are currently gifted with at least two threatening wingers – Rafael Leao and Christian Pulisic, and eventually, it is hoped Samuel Chukwueze can fit this mould also. As such, there has to be an ability to get the best of these players.

Furthermore, should the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek attack and enter that position behind the striker, it is pivotal that the chosen one can get the most out of the attacking midfielder’s offensive qualities.

It goes somewhat hand in hand with the previous point, but there’s also a need for the Frenchman’s successor to be capable of holding the ball up well, should there be no immediate support around him. Alternatively, there is the need to be willing to go by himself at times, like on the counter for example.

Finally, there is a need for him to have a presence in the box. This has to be a trait possessed by the new striker. There has to be a knowledge of where to position alongside where to attack, and above all, a presence that defenders will struggle with due to the previous two factors.

The options

Milan have been linked with so many different profiles since last summer – when the idea of a big investment was concretely mentioned – that it is hard to keep tabs on who the media think might arrive.

Nonetheless, we have profiled the more insistent names that have come from the most reliable sources below.

Joshua Zirkzee – Bologna

There would be something amiss if Joshua Zirkzee weren’t mentioned, and it’s understandable to see why. Having been extensively linked with a move to the Rossoneri, heightened by the rumours his current coach may also make the move to Milano, the rumours appear to have legs.

We revealed that the club were watching the Former Bayern Munich starlet closely at the start of December, and the rumours have only grown.

With him scoring twice and getting two assists to knock Inter out of the Coppa Italia, his quality has shone in the past month, and he presents an exciting opportunity.

His record in Serie A speaks for itself: at the time of writing seven goals and two assists. Nevertheless, it is his playing style and ceiling that make him such an exciting prospect.

He has been described as a 9.5 as opposed to a traditional number nine or ten; the reasoning for this being that his style is fluid, a confusing but intriguing prospect.

As stated in an interview, in his youth the Dutchman played as a playmaker or even as a winger, but now sees his time leading the line. As a result, he possesses the traits that are stereotypically matched with a more creative outlet whilst also having that goalscoring ability.

Furthermore, there is a drive found within Zirkzee that could spur him further. When Bayern Munich signed the Dutchman, he was hyped to have the world at his feet and the next big star in Germany or elsewhere, and until this season, he has rarely tapped into that potential.

This re-animation of Zirkzee, though, seems to be the player that Bayern believed in, and with the Rossoneri, he could spur himself onto the heights once projected of himself.

Jonathan David – LOSC Lille

When Victor Osimhen departed, Lille needed someone to step up to fill the boots the Nigerian star left, and Jonathan David has done so in abundance. The Canadian starlet, again, has been extensively linked with a move to Milan, and this would certainly be an intriguing move.

Whilst he has a ‘truer’ history in the nine compared to Zirkzee, he still has played in other positions. He will be known as a striker, as ultimately that is what the Rossoneri would be recruiting.

However, he also has a history of playing on the wing or as a second striker, so he has the abilities linked with those positions.

David is a dynamic goal threat, and with 66 contributions in 138 games for Lille, he is a name who will feature on a lot of Elite European clubs’ lists.

With an average of 2.92 Shot Creating Actions (SCA) per 90, which puts him into the top 25% of forwards, he can and does make things happen.

With Milan already having a great relationship with the French outfit, it makes sense why the links are there and why there can be hope of Geoffrey Moncada being able to negotiate a good deal, as has been seen with Rafael Leao and Mike Maignan

Victor Gyokeres – Sporting CP

Where to start with Gyokeres? He is a product of Brighton’s youth recruitment, but you would be forgiven for not knowing this, given his astronomic rise at Coventry City.

With the Sky Blues, the Swede became the striker he is now, and with Sporting Club this season, he has only further excelled. There is so much to look into regarding him, and with his current form, there can certainly be arguments made about how difficult it would be to acquire him.

Reports suggest that he has a €100m release clause in his current contract and with a contract until 2028, the Portuguese outfit will be hard to negotiate with.

However, if the Rossoneri get the chance, they must act upon it. With 13 goals in 17 games, his record is impressive enough this season. He is a deadly striker who is exceptional in several scenarios, whether that be through chances he has created himself or provided by his teammates.

Alternatively, he is also a great outlet. In terms of link-up play, using the stats website FBRef, you can quickly get a hint of the creative player that he is. He gets an assist just under once every two games and creates five (Yes, 5) SCA per game, which is an incredible statistic.

A deal would be difficult to negotiate, but, Milan have an ace. The striker is deemed to be Sweden’s next big thing, alongside Alexander Isak, and the Rossoneri have just acquired the biggest (quite literally) Swedish thing in history.

Zlatan is a striker that, you would imagine, Gyokeres would love to emulate on a club and country level.

Serhou Guirassy – Stuttgart

If there was a global breakout striker sensation award, you could go to Stuttgart, find Serhou Guirassy, and offer him the trophy tomorrow. The Guinean forward has seemingly appeared from nowhere this season for the German outfit, but he has been a rising talent in the past few years.

With Ligue 1 side Stade Rennais, he scored 10 times in 27 games in the 2020-21 season and followed this up with nine goals in 37 the following season. However, since moving to Germany, he has unlocked his full potential.

In his first season back in Germany (2022-23), he scored 11 times, and this season, he has already smashed that, scoring an astonishing 17 times in 14 Bundesliga appearances, and is currently the league’s second top-goalscorer behind Harry Kane.

Taking to FBRef once again, his stats are exceptional. He is in the 99th percentile of strikers in Europe’s ‘top five’ leagues for goals scored per game and creates three SCA per game, a key stat needed for Milan’s next striker.

There is one positive and a potential drawback, though. Starting with the negative, he is 27. This may be puzzling, but for Milan’s approach there is a big emphasis on being able to profit from players, and at that age you get maybe a year or two from him before any profit is difficult.

However, he is available for only €17.5m, so if he were to hit the ground running a profit would not be out of the question especially with Premier League teams sniffing around.

It is more an issue of foresight: will the club be willing to purchase someone at this age when acquisitions at the current time are focused on prospects, as opposed to someone entering his prime years?

Benjamin Sesko – RB Leipzig

Looking at the base of his statistics from this season, Benjamin Sesko may seem like a very disappointing acquisition given he has three goals in 15 appearances. However, the vital thing to look at here is that he has only played 490 minutes, which equates to around a goal every other game.

Comparisons have been rife between him and Erling Haaland due to their stature, danger, and paths. Both showed their abilities at RB Salzburg, only the Norweigan star moved to Borussia Dortmund, whereas the Slovenian starlet moved to Salzburg’s German sister team, Leipzig.

In some ways his stature acts as a distraction – at 193cm, he is more than able to be an aeriel threat, but he is also a silky forward, blessed with flair and technicality in a deceptive way to what his build would suggest.

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Furthermore, it is a commodity to see him link up well with other forwards or midfielders, and this makes him a superb candidate, more so when you consider he is only 20 years old.

As reported earlier this month, he is a concrete target for the Rossoneri. Still, there is the potential that a move could be hindered due to Timo Werner moving, which could create a pathway for the Slovenian striker to the first team or at least more first-team exposure.

If Leipzig cannot offer him such promises over playing time, a move could occur, and with his potential ceiling, he is another exciting talent.

Vangelis Pavlidis – AZ Alkmaar

Vangelis Pavlidis is another player who presents an interesting proposition for Milan to look into. He’s set the Eredivisie alight in the past few years, and it is understandable why clubs in Europe are taking notice.

In his past five seasons, he has not scored less than 10 goals, and since moving to AZ Alkmaar, his record has only progressed to a new level. With 23 contributions in his first season at AZ (18g/5a), he then went on to score 12 in the following season and assisted eight times in only 25 games.

However, this season is where his best has been displayed. He is currently a man-possessed on the scoring front, scoring 19 times in 18 appearances, which is his highest goal tally ever, and with half a season left to play, it is imagined this number will increase.

What makes him so exciting is how clinical he is. He takes, on average, around four shots per game and has a conversion rate of around 25%, which works out to around a goal per game. Additionally, he creates a chance per game too.

He is confident playing in a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3, which is a pivotal factor, given most of the coaches linked with the managerial post at Milan play, with the main figure that strays from this being Antonio Conte.

At 25 years old, deadly with both feet and offering goalscoring threat, it makes sense for the Diavolo to be interested in him, and it would be imagined that there is a pathway to profit with him.

Wild card

The final name on this list hasn’t been linked to a move to the Rossoneri. Now this may, for the second time result in a puzzled look on your face, but as Moncada revealed earlier this month, there have been several targets that have not yet been published by the media, so we had a brainstorm.

Whilst it’d be lovely to see Kylian Mbappe don the red and black shirt again, it, unfortunately, isn’t realistic. Instead, someone like Jonas Wind could be.

The Danish striker has been exceptional for Wolfsburg this season and is already attracting Premier League clubs, and it wouldn’t be out of the question for Milan to be interested.

Scouting Report: Jonas Wind - by Vince Massara

His profile aligns very similarly with Giroud’s and with what the squad can build around in years to come. He stands at 190cm and matches his stature with an ability to win the ball aerially, but his height isn’t the only positive attribute of his stature. He is also exceptional at holding the ball up, which is a much-needed trait.

The Dane is a goalscorer, and whilst he has not scored as many as his fellow Bundesliga striker on this list, he has still performed very well, scoring nine times in 18 appearances, which is his best season in Germany so far.

The biggest place of intrigue is the fact that he is a complete striker, and stats from FBRef offer an insight into how deadly he could be in the right system.

With almost three progressive passes a game and an incredible record regarding defensive actions, including things such as pressures, he could be moulded further into one of Europe’s elites under the right mentorship.


Whoever arrives will certainly have huge shoes to fill. As we previously stated, Giroud’s impact on the Rossoneri has been clear to see in terms of value for money.

As a result, it will be hard to find someone who would represent similar value, especially with the current climate of the mercato.

However, in our eyes, Victor Gyokeres stands out as someone who we think could have a pathway, not only to profit but also to becoming an icon for the Rossoneri. He is young enough to fit the project but has the needed experience to be a success.

If anyone had any doubts about his ability to translate goals from the Championship to a league with a better standard, those worries will be far gone. What he has achieved in a very short time in Portugal is spell-binding.

The issue is, though, is the money that the Portuguese club will demand, but if there is an opportunity, the club have to try and take it with two hands, as otherwise they could be left to rue the missed opportunity in years to come.

Is there anyone we’ve missed out on or anybody you think Milan should target specifically from this list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section!

Tags AC Milan Benjamin Sesko Jonas Wind Jonathan David Joshua Zirkzee Serhou Guirassy Vangelis Pavlidis Viktor Gyökeres


  1. Most of them we can’t afford I would like to have Zirkzee but he would cost around 40 mil or Gyokeres but top premier league wants him so he will be very expensive so I guess Sesko or David. Not very impressed with both of them.

  2. If Sesko is actually available, he should definitely be the n1 target.
    Zirkzee is next.
    Gyokeres coming out of Portugal will cost a lot of money.
    Pavidis and Guirassy are the most affordable options.
    David should be the last.

    “Milan’s approach there is a big emphasis on being able to profit from players.”

    What players has Milan profit from?
    This narrative is based only on 1 (one) sale and profit, and we don’t even know if that was initiated by Tonali or not, especially with all the things that came out about him this season. Who is to say that he didn’t force the transfer to cover for his gambling debt? He went from making 2.5 mil at Milan to up to 9 mil at Newcastle. There was no fuss from the player or his agent during or after the transfer. The transfer happened in literally 1 day.
    Every club sells players. Real Madrid, ManCity, Bayern, all do it. Milan makes one sale and right away is labeled as a selling club.
    This is the way football clubs function nowadays. You can either accept or don’t watch, but stop whining or making up false narratives.

    1. Agreed about being labelled a selling club. In fact it can be argued Milan should have sold on more players at a profit by now than they have.

      The other narrative that keeps getting pushed is the idea of “Moneyball”. It is essentially analytics which is used in every modern business and industry. The use of that term is narrow sighted and just plain lazy. Buying players at a value deemed fair by analytics is a common practice not unique to Milan. Not sure why this keeps getting pushed onto readers and why people keep regurgitating it to illustrate a point but it really needs to stop.

    2. Absolutely agree, selling players on is a key part in successful modern clubs, especially with the way rules are for accounting. With the correct scouting team, there shouldn’t be a need to always buy expensive players – most of the ones in this article were only bought by their current club in the last year or two.

  3. I have a crazy feeling that Moncada is weighing up Eliesse Ben Seghir from Monaco, he is only 18 years old, his contract expires in 2025, huge potential in French football, I don’t think he will be a first striker, but with this potential he could very easily become one in one or two seasons , and that Mbappe is crazy to us alldream, but who knows, he has filled his bank account to the brim and it is certain that money is not his primary concern at the moment

  4. Even more importantly who the new striker will be, an actual club is interested in taking Origi off of Milan’s hands.
    LA FC from the MLS wants Origi on loan with obligation to buy for 5 million.

  5. Imo, David and zirkzee will arrive if leao is sold at the end of the season. David is more of a winger than striker, so he would be a replacement for leao on the left wing. Him and Zirkzee would likely cost around 80mil, which can be covered by the sale of leao

    1. They might well talk about these signings and yes of course we do need a replacement for Olivier Giroud..The fact Olivier Giroud is still with us and his form is still very good , and he continues to defy all the odds and keeps himself fit .I would not be surprised to see him hit 20 goals this season .This man is a true warrior and is a proven winner .Yes like many of you have said he is not getting any younger .The man technically is still one of the best strikers in the world .yes he is .His awareness on the pitch truly astonishing and not only is he scoring goals ,but he is also providing them .You can never replace him.
      If he does decide to stay for another season ,I shall be a very happy man .if he does, even though we will sign another centre forward .
      Olivier will still fight for his place to lead the line .it will be a very sad day in football when this man does hang up his boots .


  6. Santiago Gimenez….. Feyenord
    Igor thiago……….. Club brugge
    Mathys tel……… bayern
    Broja…… Chelsea(Wild Card)
    El Wahi……Rc Lens(Wild card)
    Youssoufa Moukoko…… Dortmund(Wild card)

  7. Maybe you have a chance for sesko when spending the 20mio to Salzburg but never ever now, same with zirkzee. Tel would be an amazing investment but i think its also to late, think about konate from Salzburg or mind the 20,5 mio for Boniface. There are many clubs that have shown us how it works.

  8. Okafor is physically gifted and has shown he can score when given a chance to play. Invest in a playmaker and Leao, Okafor, Pulisic will be a lot more productive.

  9. Most of these would have been affordable a year or two ago but just aren’t now, time to accept that. Wind might be but the others are on the radar of free-spending English teams. Zirkzee in particular was on the market last year and we had no interest, so what a failure of scouting if they now decide he’s the best choice a few months later. The club needs to get better at identifying these players the year before they make a big move and sign a long contract, not the year after…

    I hope we find a way to keep Jovic at least, but I currently expect Giroud’s replacement to be Origi!

  10. They might well talk about these signings and yes of course we do need a replacement for Olivier Giroud..The fact Olivier Giroud is still with us and his form is still very good , and he continues to defy all the odds and keeps himself fit .I would not be surprised to see him hit 20 goals this season .This man is a true warrior and is a proven winner .Yes like many of you have said he is not getting any younger .The man technically is still one of the best strikers in the world .yes he is .His awareness on the pitch truly astonishing and not only is he scoring goals ,but he is also providing them .You can never replace him.
    If he does decide to stay for another season ,I shall be a very happy man .if he does, even though we will sign another centre forward .
    Olivier will still fight for his place to lead the line .it will be a very sad day in football when this man does hang up his boots .


  11. Unless Milan get a huge cash injection (or sell Leao and / or Maignan), they will be able to afford none of these players. Fairly pointless speculation.

  12. Pavlidis? NO WAY!!

    1. Remember Huntelaar? He scored like 10x more goals than Pavlidis. He was a massive flop in Italy. Scoring in Eredivisie isn’t the same as in Serie A.

    2. Look at the goals from the highlights reel. Easy tap-ins. Even Origi would score from those chances.

  13. Zirkzee will probably rejoin Bayern through the contract clause. In any case, he does not seem to be the kind of player to replace Giroud. He is not a “true 9”, more suitable as a winger or second striker. It is obvious he will never become a high-profile goalscorer.
    Gyokeres would be the most suitable in the article’s list, but he is too expensive for Milan and I find his inclusion here quite surprising.
    David does lack some technical and tactic capabilities to be a top striker, i.e. a regular goalscorer in top levels (Serie A, UCL). Otherwise he would have already been taken by a Premier League club since he has been in the news for a few years now. Sesko is very young and interesting, but has never procen himself to be a regular goalscorer so far. Guirassy is 27 years old and has performed well in only half a season so far.
    If Milan seek to find someone with no “immediate effect” but who gradually develops in a top quality striker, then from the available names around, Sesko or Armando Broja are the most promising names (Mathys Tel is expensive and willing to stay at Bayern).

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