GdS: Zirkzee in, Giroud out – how Milan’s attacking build-up would change

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan are looking for a new centre-forward ahead of the summer and seem to have settled on Joshua Zirkzee, a player who would very much change the way that the team play.

According to this morning’s edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport, Zirkzee has given his approval to the idea of joining Milan and now they are working on an operation that would be worth around €50m, possibly with a counterpart included.

What would it mean for Milan if he were to join? The paper goes on to focus about how Zirkzee could complement some of the other pieces in the attack at present, starting with the obvious one: Rafael Leao.

The obvious differences

The Dutchman interprets the role of striker in a profoundly different way from Giroud. The Frenchman is a classic penalty area centre-forward, a man who lives in the box and looks to be a finisher, as well as battling hard in aerial duels and pressing from the front.

Zirkzee is a centre-forward with the attitude of a No.10: great technique, searching for one-on-ones, dribbling and vision of the game. Characteristics that make him closer to Leao, perhaps.

It is no coincidence that the Portuguese winger has already expressed his appreciation for the former Bayern man on social media, liking one of our tweets which linked him with a move.

The doubt

The unknown, if anything, is linked to the numbers: how many goals would the ‘Zirkzao’ formula be able to guarantee? The point of comparison, once again, is Giroud.

Since he wore the red and black shirt, the 37-year-old has always scored double figures (to be precise, he has been doing so for 14 consecutive seasons) and, together with Rafa, he has scored 28 and 34 goals in the last two seasons.

Zirkzee is definitely traveling at a different pace: in this 2023-24 season he has 11 goals but in his previous campaigns in Serie A (with Parma and Bologna) he had not gone beyond two goals in 21 appearances with the Rossoblù last season.

How Milan could look

The paper provides a graphic showing the differences in how Milan might play, starting with the current set-up. Giroud, as mentioned, is a player who likes to get into the box and Leao looks to be the provider for him with direct runs.

The former Arsenal and Chelsea man often tries to drop deeper in order to participate in the build-up play but his flicks and tricks have mixed success.

With Zirkzee, the Rossoneri would alter quite noticeably. Leao and Pulisic on the flanks would drive more centrally, as would Loftus-Cheek, and the Dutchman would have no problem dropping in to provide for their runs.

Tags AC Milan Joshua Zirkzee Olivier Giroud


  1. Nice, I’m all in for this move. A mobile forward – more Ibra-esque than statuesque. No disrespect to Giroud who’s performed way higher than most of us predicted, but it’s time for him to move on, I think.

  2. A quality player but not a center forward.

    Why would we choose to reinvent how we play rather than sign a true 9?

    Also if we had wingers who scored many goals like Salah at Liverpool or Ronaldo at Madrid, then we can afford to have a striker who is more of a playmaker like Benzema or Firmino.
    Our problem is converting chances and putting games to bed. We have creative players like Pulisic and Leao who are never going to score huge numbers.
    We need a goal scorer not a creator

    1. The striker position has evolved. The Giroud kind of strikers that are only good in the box are a dying breed. Haaland is the last one. If Haaland doesn’t get service he is useless, it’s like you are playing with a man down.
      Milan played their best football when they had Ibra as the striker. Ibra played the same way Zirkzee plays, often dropping back deep, pulling the defender with him, opening space behind and creating plays from there. Giroud provided very little outside of the box, outside of occasional flicks, so all the chance creation comes from the wingers.
      Zirkzee with his hold up play and play making ability will allow the players around him to score more goals. If Zirkzee, Leao, Pulisic and RLC all have at least 10 goals you don’t need a 20+ striker.
      Milan’s problem isn’t converting chances, but creating them. Milan is actually outperforming their xG so I don;t know where you getting that Milan has problems converting chances. Giroud gets very little service, same with Jovic and Okafor.
      Another creator is needed, the goals will come from there. Pulisic and especially Leao must score more goals.

      1. Essentially we should by a non-goal scoring striker and more of a playmaker who can hold the ball and draw defensive players out. Noted.

        I just hope complains would not come if he isn’t hitting double digits a season.

        1. The man scored double digits already at bologna and he is the only creative force on the team, but he won’t score double digits at Milan?

          1. Not true. Zirkzee has been injured and they still win. They have many creative forces. Mainly Orsolini, Ferguson and Saelemaekers. But heah they get much better with him on the team of course.

      2. You make some valid points. I would also like a striker who aids in build up as well as scores, but we must have someone who can be the tip of the sword, like Osimehn at Napoli.

        I don’t put too much faith in xG and the likes.
        During games like the 1st legs against Newcastle and Dortmund we created many many chances and couldn’t convert, that’s essentially what cost us qualification for the last 16 of CL.

        Good strikers are rare these days but they are out there, just expensive. Look at what UTD had to pay for Rasmussen

        1. True but just because the team didn’t convert chances vs Dortmund and Newcastle it doesn’t mean it was the striker missing them. The other attacking players need to convert their chances too.
          Giroud actually has been very proficient converting chances, but he doesn’t get many.

    2. @SJF. Thank you. I’ve been saying the same thing since we have been talking about Zirkzee. Also, Okafor plays a similar role to Zirkzee and yet Pioli uses Okafor more as a winger when in fact he is a CF.

      Okafor played CF for RB Salzburg and for the Swiss National team and he has never played as winger for any team. So why is Pioli playing him wide and not using him in his natural position? Sigh.

      Will Pioli end up using Zirkzee more as winger then? Milan need a classic number 9 who has a high goal scoring conversion rate to chance created.

      Guirassy, Icardi, Artem Dovbyk from Girona, and Youssef En-Nesyri is the type of striker Milan needs.

  3. From what I can tell, Zee has not only been primarily scoring, but also providing assists to teammates and getting involved in the build up as well.

    I absolutely love that about a striker. And since we already have four different players on double digit goals this season, adding Zee to the mix might boost the numbers all around up front for Milan.

    I just hope they can pull this off.

Comments are closed

Serie A Standings

Live football scores . Current table, fixtures & results.