GdS: Milan are firing but Chukwueze isn’t – the story behind a difficult first season

By Oliver Fisher -

Samuel Chukwueze was AC Milan’s most expensive signing of a summer window in which they spent well over €100m and brought in ten players, yet things just haven’t clicked for him yet.

La Gazzetta dello Sport recall that in the summer Milan decided to fully refresh the right wing position and going into the new season Christian Pulisic and Chukwueze were battling for a starting spot, a talented tandem that had generated a fair bit of hyope before.

The idea was that Milan would no longer lean only to the left, where Rafael Leao and Theo Hernandez play. In fact, Chukwueze’s 13 goals last season for Villarreal even suggested that Leao might have a rival for top scoring winger.

However, football is also unpredictable and thus the 50-50 battle between Pulisic and Chukwueze for the starting spot became 80-20 in favour of the American, and now it might be even higher than 80.

There are reasons behind this, such as the fact that Pulisic perhaps offers more assurances in the defensive phase and thus more balance, but above all the main factor is that the Nigerian has so far demonstrated that he has not got up to speed with the team’s attacking mechanisms.

If the Rossoneri’s defensive phase leaves a lot to be desired, this Milan instead produces a lot up front, scores many goals and has fun. Everyone except Chukwueze that is, who almost always gives a feeling of confusion in his plays.

He had African Cup of Nations to forget, both in terms of the team (Nigeria were defeated in the final by Franck Kessie’s Ivory Coast) and in personal terms because he played just 286 minutes out of the 630 available, with three games as a starter out of seven and two matches spent entirely on the bench.

He had zero goals, and zero assists. Not exactly an exciting adventure. Meanwhile, at Milan so far he has made 21 appearances, of which 10 were as a starter, for a total of 870 minutes. Chukwueze has two goals – both in the Champions League – and an assist in the league.

In the last two matches against Monza and Rennes, which were equally poor performances for the Rossoneri, Samu’s substitute appearances left very little impact.

With Villarreal in 2022-23 Chukwueze got his personal record of goals in a single year (13) which convinced Milan to fork out €20m plus €8m in bonuses.

Fortunately, there is obviously still time to redeem things, and also fortunately Pulisic has been able to reduce the urgency to do so.


Tags AC Milan Samuel Chukwueze


  1. Still more goals and assists than CDK had with us his first year. So if CDK is an example, just give him another season before judging. If he’s still this unproductive next season, get rid of him.

    1. That’s literally the only positive about his season albeit not a very high one. He has to do better. Hopefully his second year is more productive.

      Otherwise he too will go to Atalanta and explode.

    2. Chuk’s salary is 4 million, almost double CDK’s salary, he was touted as a finished product and ready to contribute.

      If he fails, it will be hard to get rid of him

      1. Except for goal. CDK has better passing & game built up. Chukwueze so far is only backpass specialist. Milan playing 10 men when he in the field.

    1. Again, nothing is ever the player’s fault. It’s always on the coach.
      Also, he wasn’t benched, Pulisic was outplaying him by a mile and has earned the starting spot. Chuku was given some minutes and the opportunity to start a few games. Then he got injured, then he went off to play in African cup.
      If he can’t handle the pressure then he is on the wrong team.

      1. Imagine doing the same with a thoroughbred horse or race car.

        Why do people assume being an elite athlete is like the most casual thing ever.

        1. Because we watch it every day and we think we know all that goes into it?

          Because “fan” is short for “fanatic”?

          Because we only get to see the 90 minutes of finished product each week and not the other 50 hours of preparation, pain, failure and heartache it takes to produce it?

          It’s a really thoughtful question.

    2. He’s had several starts. In all he was often out of position to the extent of dragging defenders to the ball.

      He’s had several opportunities off the bench. Same result.

      He had a very poor AFCON losing his spot. This is the most damning of all.

      There was a point when it looked like he was progressing in integrating with the squad. But he clearly regressed based on the Monza start.

      A tired Puli comes off bench with an assist and a goal and an attitude of trying to carry the team to a draw while a man down.

      Yes Chuk was benched. Is it not obvious why?

  2. Best to rate him after a full preseason, I don’t think getting rid of him before next winter is prudent. More so with the prospect of losing Leao in a handful of months, which could mean Pulisic going back his natural LW position and opening up the RW slot again.

    1. This is an honest question because I see the preseason thing come up so often.

      How is preseason more important than the now 25 games of Serie A, months of practice sessions and film study?

      For me the question is all the more interesting because we ran preseason to install a 433 and invert our fullbacks. Today we play 4231 and inversion is much more opportunistic. The other players have adapted. Florenzi is a good example of someone coming from the bench and knowing where to be and what to do.

      Help me understand why preseason is still so crucial in Chuks case?

  3. Never could understand why Chelsea couldn’t see Pulisic genius. Except for their coaches. Klopp gave Pulisic his chance at Dortmund. Then he moved on. But for him, Pulisic might be languishing in MLS. What a waste that would have been.

  4. It really does seem to take most players a year to settle in Italy. He needs to pick his head up and trust his skill instead of relying solely on speed

    1. On Milan alone, Puli, Reinjders, RLC and Jovic all appear far more settled already.

      Thurman and Pavard seem well adapted at Inter.

      I agree there seems to be a transition period but isn’t it too much and too long at this point?

      I don’t think the guy is trash, etc
      You don’t get here if you are. I do wonder about attitude, commitment and the ability/willingness to adapt his game now that he’s “made it”.

  5. In my honest opinion (I’m no coach btw), I feel he doesn’t fit Pioli’s system. I feel he’s better served running the channels, lurking on the shoulders of his marker looking to run in-behind onto through balls instead of trying to make the play which is what the wide players do in Pioli’s system. I can’t remember the last time I saw Leao consistently running in-behind onto through balls (which I believe that is the best version of Leao) despite his pace & power. It doesn’t help that our midfielders have almost zero creativity but that’s how Pioli likes his midfielders so… 🤷🏾‍♂️
    There’s also the fact that most teams sit on a low block against us conceding very little space in-behind.

    I’m still hoping he adapts & comes good eventually.

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