Hakan Calhanoglu has virtually always been a fixture in the starting XI since his arrival at Milan, but it is only in the last few months that his status as a starter has not been in question.
As La Gazzetta dello Sport notes (via MilanNews), there has never been a lack of criticism from fans who wanted to see a more consistent and decisive playmaker, even if Calhanoglu was played out of position an awful lot too.
A remarkable statistic shows just how far the 26-year-old has come: 17 of Milan’s goals in the last 12 games have been scored or assisted by Calhanoglu. Stefano Pioli, who deploys him in his natural role as an attacking midfielder, is getting the best out of the player to the extent that fans are now clamouring for his renewal.
The Rossoneri No.10 has become irreplaceable and the impact of Ibrahimovic in this respect must not be understated. Calhanoglu will return to Milanello on Thursday and will start preparing with his team-mates for Saturday’s derby against Inter, a match that he wants to win at all costs.