AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli must manage Olivier Giroud carefully in the coming weeks, because there is a crowded fixture list even though he knows he cannot do without him.
La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below) write that on Saturday 30 September, when Milan host Lazio, Giroud will celebrate his 37th birthday and it is expected that he will play as well as the leader of the attacking department.
It’s unlikely that Pioli will give him some rest: against a top team like Lazio he will want to field his best players. The point is that behind Giroud, there is a void of goals. The Frenchman on his own cannot be enough, especially at nearly 37.
He has started all four league games for Milan, the Champions League game against Newcastle United (which he played all 90 minutes of) and he has 4 goals and 2 assists to his name. With France he had played the first 26 minutes of the match against Ireland and left due to a sore ankle.
If he is needed against Lazio and certainly in the following Champions League match against Dortmund, some rotation on Wednesday in Cagliari is conceivable.
Who should be entrusted with the centre-forward? Noah Okafor has four appearances in Serie A but he remained on the pitch for a total of just 67 minutes, all as a substitute.
Okafor had convinced Milan to invest in him after scoring a goal as an opponent at San Siro, but for the Rossoneri he has not yet been in a situation where the team are pushing hard for a decisive goal.
He has never been a prolific scorer, in fact his highest goal tally is 9 in the league with Red Bull Salzburg, so expectations must shift in line with this.
There is even less to report about Luka Jovic’s time at Milan so far. With 13 minutes to go in the derby, he came on at 3-1 to try to reopen the match, and was a spectator two minutes later for the Nerazzurri’s fourth goal.
Due to his technical and physical characteristics, Pioli considers him the true deputy Giroud. However, the Serbian arrived on the last day of the transfer market and left immediately afterwards to join the national team so he has not had as much time to learn the mechanisms.
In 2018-19 he had his best season, with 17 goals for Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga. Since then he has struggled at Real Madrid and Fiorentina let him join Milan for free.