GdS: Patience and hard work – how Adli went from sellable to a starter

By Oliver Fisher -

Seven months ago it seemed as though Yacine Adli would have to find somewhere else to play, but now he has become a crucial part of Stefano Pioli’s plans at AC Milan.

As this morning’s edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below) writes, there are two new starters in town and if you look closely, they resemble two players who back in July perhaps didn’t even have a place in the pecking order at all.

Football is a land of opportunities and sometimes everything happens quickly: Matteo Gabbia and Yacine Adli were destined to play this season elsewhere, but on the last day of February they are preparing to start tomorrow’s match against Lazio.

How did it happen? Well, for Gabbia it is a different story, but Adli’s is more a lesson in not giving up and believing in your ability to contribute to the cause after a very difficult first season with the Rossoneri.

Having been signed from Bordeaux and then immediately sent back on loan, Adli then spent last season barely featuring at all for the Rossoneri.

Many assumed that he would be shipped out in the summer either on loan or permanently, but he has stayed and fought for a place in the team and now seems to be a player that Pioli trusts.

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He started over Tijjani Reijnders against Atalanta, because Pioli said he has ‘more suitable characteristics’ and he should get the nod from the first minute against Lazio. Five days of rest are more than enough: Pioli will field the best team.

In just over six months, it marks a U-turn. Adli, in July, was told that Milan would change and there would be no place for him. He pretended not to hear and resisted, so Pioli gave him a half opening on tour in the United States, unlike what was done with Origi, Rebic and Saelemaekers.

Adli did the rest: he became Rade Krunic’s deputy and did not prove sensitive to the interests of Eintracht Frankfurt and other clubs. On September 1, at the Olimpico before Roma-Milan, Pioli told him that he was happy to have him.

Tomorrow Adli will face Lazio in the same stadium, the team against whom he played for the first time as a starter at San Siro.


Tags AC Milan Yacine Adli


  1. If Hakan, who was bang average except for his last season in Milan, is now deemed one of best deep lying playmakers out there, I don’t understand why Adli couldn’t do it. It’s his first year in this new role and he’s still 23 years old. Pirlo also started his new deep lying role under Carletto when he was 22.

    But we still need a holding midfielder who’ll cover for him and be extra body back there.


    Proper balance.

  2. Calhanoglu was not average, our coaches prior to Pioli were. Comparing Adli to Calhanoglu and Pirlo is not right… Without getting to Pirlo, I’d take the first Calhanoglu over Adli any day and not because Adli doesn’t have margin of improvement, it’s just that Calhanoglu was in a much better starting spot then where Adli is.

    Look at his 40+ meter free kick against Dortmund when he played for Hamburg, even Klopp at the time was impressed. Calhanoglu was a starter in Bundesliga for 2-3 years, played in the NT, he played in CL, heck he scored the winning goal against Atletico Madrid in one of the games.

    I don’t like what Calha did, and I hoped he’d fail at Inter but I also don’t think it’s fair to try and diminuish some players value and contribution because it doesn’t fit the narrative…

    1. Who’s comparing? Pirlo is incomparable. A maestro. Hakan was really inconsistent, fans were quite frustrated with his incosistency. He was no world beater, not even in Leverkusen.

      1. You said “If Hakan, who was bang average except for his last season in Milan, is now deemed one of best deep lying playmakers out there, I don’t understand why Adli couldn’t do it.”
        What I’m saying, with maybe a better choice of words, is that Hakan wasn’t bang average, had the skill and experience to back it up, and even at that period he was better than the current Adli. Yes, some people would bash on Hakan in the online forums, but imo that was a short-sighted view and not the full picture. People also bashed Kessie in the first years before Pioli, even though he had shown in Atalanta at a younger age that he could play, and these people only came to appreciate him later. Heck, even Seedorf was now and then inconsistent.

        Anyways, I’d be very happy if Adli can reach the peaks of Calhanoglu. Also I’d wait to call Calhanoglu one of the best playmakers until I see him in another team. He can definitely pass, he’s smart and he can fight but I don’t recall him ever owning the midfield with Turkey and my suspicion is that with a less skilled midfield (no DiMarco, Barella, Mikh, without counting also Lautaro and Thuram that drop deep ), he wouldn’t be as efficient. Plus Marotta is very good at pimping his own players to get to the highest bidders.

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