Devil’s Advocate: Milan must use clean slate to add quality and depth in nine areas this summer

By Oliver Fisher -

With football currently on hold due to the COVID-19 emergency, some teams are already beginning to plan for the summer window with a view to next season.

Milan don’t seem to have many certainties at the moment given the speculation surrounding the head coach position – with Ralf Rangnick seemingly on pole to take charge – as well as the future of directors Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara plus several key players including Gianluigi Donnarumma and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

What is clear though is that there are several areas that the Rossoneri must address in the upcoming window regardless of the head coach if they are to truly give the squad the quality and depth needed to compete in multiple competitions.

This starts at the very back with the goalkeeping department. If Donnarumma stays or goes – with the latter seemingly increasingly likely given his contract situation – Milan must sign a goalkeeper, either as a replacement for Gigio or as a back-up, allowing Pepe Reina to leave.

If a new starter were signed, Reina could depart too anyway allowing Alessandro Plizzari to be promoted to deputy, but either way there is the need for a new stopper to come in with the only dependency being his importance.

Looking at the full-back positions, the Diavolo are in dire need of at least one new right-back having struggled for consistency all season, with Andrea Conti and Davide Calabria both failing to nail down a starting spot due to a combination of injuries, poor form and suspensions.

Plenty of names keep being linked such as Alvaro Odriozola, Denzel Dumfries and Paolo Ghiglione, but what is certain is that at least one right-back must arrive – possibly two if good enough offers come in for the current duo.

At left-back the discussion is slightly different as Milan have one of the best young full-backs in world football in Theo Hernandez, but Diego Laxalt should be moved on for a new deputy to arrive, a young player who can learn from Theo and is happy to be a rotation option to start. A return for Wigan’s Antonee Robinson springs to mind.

The Rossoneri should keep hold of Alessio Romagnoli and Matteo Gabbia and use their €2.5m option to buy Simon Kjaer, even if he were to arrive and not be an out-and-out starter. Leo Duarte will then return to injury to make four centre-back slots.

The main need though is for Romagnoli to get a consistent partner to his right side, and the club’s management must invest in this area to keep the captain happy and to form a solid base. Sales could help fund a move for Dayot Upamecano, Evan N’Dicka or Kristoffer Ajer, all of whom seem like they could fit the bill.

Moving into the midfield, Milan are also in dire need of a consistent anchoring duo, with Ismael Bennacer primed to form half of that. A defensive midfielder with composure and creativity like Sandro Tonali or Ivan Rakitic seems to make the most sense, with Rade Krunic able to provide depth and Franck Kessie possible used to raise money.

A new trequartista is also an absolute necessity. Hakan Calhanoglu has been given three years to assert himself now and hasn’t won many people over, but he could stay for depth. Mario Gotze and David Silva have been linked recently, but a younger more exciting option like Jonathan David or Gaetano Castrovilli is probably more in line with the ownership’s vision.

Then, with Giacomo Bonaventura and Lucas Biglia on their way out, a player who could cover both a defensive and a more creative role would be good to have, again with talented players like Dominik Szoboszlai possible options.

A new winger will be required, and it would be ideal to find a player who could play on both the left and the right, so as to be able to back-up and provide competition for both Ante Rebic and Samu Castillejo. The links with Memphis Depay are of course exciting, with plenty of opportunities available to add quality down the wings.

Finally, a striker will be needed regardless of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s future, as the Rossoneri currently do not have anyone else who could play as a typical No.9 as Rafael Leao seems destined to drift between playing as a mobile centre-forward and out on the left.

Arek Milik, Loren Moron and Mauro Icardi among others continue to be linked, but really it will be down to the manager more than anything to choose a striker who fits his style, be that a pure penalty box finisher or someone who gets between defenders and presses hard.

This is an exciting opportunity for Milan to actually get a revolution right for once. Bad contracts off the books will help raise funds to invest in the right profiles, and it feels like there could be an almost blank slate for Rangnick to put his stamp on this group, should he arrive.

Tags AC Milan