Saelemaekers, Origi, Ballo-Toure and more: How Milan’s loanees are getting on

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan have quite a long list of players out on loan at the moment across different levels of the Italian pyramic and in various European countries.

The management are rightly always trying to find the best possible conditions for players to grow, and that often means sending them to another club for a full season or half a year in order to play more regularly.

In addition, some of these deals have the added factor of an option or even an obligation to buy inserted which has implications in terms of the accounts, as opposed to just dry loans.

Our colleagues at have taken a look at each senior loan player (plus a couple from the Primavera) to assess both how they did in the last round of games and how they are faring overall.

Charles De Ketelaere – Atalanta

It was a weekend of mixed emotions for De Ketelaere who returned to San Siro as an opponent leading Atalanta’s attack alongside Aleksei Mirancuk. It was certainly not a positive performance for the Belgian, who found life tough against Malick Thiaw and Yacine Adli.

Generally speaking, however, Charles De Ketelaere’s season in Bergamo has been fantastic, as demonstrated by the 10 goals and 7 assists collected in 29 appearances, numbers clearly higher than what he accumulated in the Rossoneri shirt.

Atalanta will have to pay €23m in the summer to buy the Belgian international permanently, a choice that La Dea seems intent on making.

Alexis Saelemaekers – Bologna

Bologna-Verona was watched entirely from the bench for Saelemaekers due to a rest period granted by Thiago Motta for the winger, who has almost always been used this season.

For the former Rossoneri man, it has been a positive season thus far under the guidance of Motta, who is the favourite to replace Pioli at the end of the season at Milan. Saelemaekers has played 19 games in the league, amassing one goal and one assist.

Rade Krunic – Fenerbahce

There was a win over the weekend for Krunic’s Fenerbachce who emerged 2-1 victory against Kasimpasa in the league. The Bosnian midfielder has now played nine matches with the Istanbul club, in which he also accumulated an assist.

Krunic was allowed to leave in January via the formula of a loan with obligation to buy set at €5m plus bonuses. Fenerbahce are currently heading for the league title, so he could celebrate success (and it might trigger those bonuses in full).

Lorenzo Colombo – Monza

Colombo did not get onto the field during Monza’s 2-0 win against Salernitana, but nevertheless this season the striker has played 21 games in Serie A, scoring four goals.

It perhaps isn’t the return that the Italian hoped for after spending last season at Lecce, but he is back to playing a leading role within Raffaele Palaldino’s side, and he of course scored against Milan 10 days ago.

Divock Origi – Nottingham Forest

Origi played 45 minutes over the weekend in Nottingham Forest’s 4-2 defeat against Aston Villa. However, the Belgian got an assist, which adds to the only goal of the season scored in the FA Cup.

His experience with Forest has been disappointing to say the least having made just 13 appearances, for a total of 341 minutes. The threat of relegation looms for them too, which would make his return almost a certainty.

Fode Ballo-Toure – Fulham

Ballo-Toure did not even get a second on the pitch during Fulham’s surprise win against Manchester United on Saturday afternoon, and that continues a sad trend.

The Senegalese full-back is on loan with an option to buy and will almost certainly return to the Rossoneri at the end of the season given the very few appearances (five) he has accumulated in the Premier League.

Daniel Maldini – Monza

It was a positive weekend for Daniel Maldini who scored his first goal of the season with the Monza shirt, and it was decisive in the 2-0 victory at Salernitana.

For Paolo’s son it is the third match he has played with the Brianza after the seven played in the season with Empoli. The forward got an assist in their win over Milan too, for the winning goal scored by Warren Bondo.

Marco Nasti – Bari

Nasti played just one minute in Bari’s 1-0 defeat at Sudtirol. However, he has collected four goals in 25 appearances with the Serie B club in the current league season.

The former Cosenza loanee moved to the Puglia-based club on loan with an option to buy, but there is a buy-back that Milan can trigger.

Marko Lazetic – Fortuna Sittard

Another match watched from the stands by Lazetic in the Eredivisie, given the former Rossoneri striker was not included in the Fortuna squad against RKC Waalwijk.

The tally reads nine appearances and zero goals for Lazetic during his experience in the Netherlands. He is there on a dry loan that means he will return when the season ends

Devis Vasquez – Ascoli

After returning in January from his loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday, Vasquez joined Ascoli until the end of the season. He made the matchday squad for the first time over the weekend, but is yet to make an appearance.

Andrea Bozzolan – Perugia

Bozzolan was an unused substitute in the match that Perugia won against Juventus Next Gen. He has made 16 appearances in Serie C this year, almost all as a starter, but stopped until January 7th due to an injury which kept out almost two months.

Chaka Traore – Palermo

Only 11 minutes were played by the former Primavera star for Palermo during their draw with Cremonese at the weekend.

It was a second appearance for Chaka after just 60 seconds played towards the end of the Rosanero’s 3-0 win over Como. As a reminder, he is there on loan with an option to buy.

Luka Romero – Almeria

It has been an excellent start for Romero who scored a brace against Atletico Madrid over the weekend, playing as a right winger for 69 minutes of the game.

The Argentina signed from Lazio on a free transfer in the summer and it was his third La Liga appearance this season. It would be safe to say he has announced himself.

Marco Pellegrino – Salernitana

Pellegrino got 90 minutes in the defeat suffered by Salernitana against Monza 2-0. This is the third consecutive match as a starter for him with the Granata.

Tags AC Milan Andrea Bozzolan Chaka Traoré Charles De Ketelaere Daniel Maldini Devis Vasquez Divock Origi Fode Ballo-Toure Lorenzo Colombo Luka Romero Marco Nasti Marco Pellegrino Marko Lazetic Rade Krunic


  1. “The management are rightly always trying to find the best possible conditions for players to grow”


    Are you serious?

    How about you apply a smidgeon of critical thinking.

    Apart from Gabbia now (after he spend less than 6 months playing 9 times under 4 different managers) in the past 15 years not a single youth player who we sent on loan became established in the first team.

    The players who do never went on loan: Donnarumma, De Sciglio, Calabria, Cristante and Locatelli. The minute anyone went on loan they were basically finished at the club.

    We did have some success with Suso and Niang so that’s two loanees out of a few thousand.

    The main reason clubs loan players is because they have too many on their books thanks to a scatter gun approach to transfers and player development.

    Loans are more about moving on problematic players than developing them.

    I mean look at Krunic!

    And look at him taking his winning mentality to another league.

    Welcome to Idiocracy.

    1. Name a top 6 team which have more than 2 starters in their team coming from their academy and has not been sent on loan. Matter of fact, how about top 10 lol. I’ll wait. I have loads of time. By logic, mostly any player in any given team is another team’s players who has been on loan or simply bought. Even the teams we (or any other team) send our players to have their own players go out on loan themselves…to other teams. That’s just how it works in football in case you didn’t realize.for the last 30 years or so. You either sink of swim. It’s a harsh hard reality. The ones that “make” it are the cream of the crop. There are vast amounts of players who never make it. Those name you never name because they’re not famous and not all can be It’s how it is. Not everyone makes it

      1. I probably can’t because modern football is a shambles!

        But Man City have Foden, Real, Bayern, Barca (especially the great Barca side), Liverpool, and Juve all have a few.

        Plus all of the players I mentioned except Calabria now play for our direct rivals (Donnarumma was nobody’s fault except the dirty filthy player).

        But that’s not even my point.

        This article talks about how players are loaned out to develop them. You presumably agree that they’re not because of the ‘harsh reality’.

        Speaking of harsh realities, most businesses (and of course modern football clubs are very serious, fiscally prudent businesses) have KPIs for their staff.

        So imagine being a youth team coach or scout at an elite club and not a single one of your players ‘make it’ (due to harsh realities).

        You’ve taken probably some of the most promising players of their generations (any players playing for the youth teams of top clubs including Milan (at youth level where they should be able to attract THE best Italians and foreigners of their generations)) and you’ve basically got a conversion rate of ZERO.

        That’s pretty incompetent right?

        Why do fans accept such poor standards?

        Why do fans accept so many failed transfers and loans?

        Why do fans accept so much wasted money and time?

        Why do fans get so defensive when I criticise the transfer market!

        I get more abuse on here for challenging the transfer market than people do for insulting the manager or players!

        1. If you were in charge we would be near the relegation zone. But hey Krunic would stay with a five year contract extension. Someone like you has no clue how teams change. You are literally stuck on past players and you have this weird mentality where the player matters more than the team.

          If you want to be a fan of some mediocre player, great. But don’t pretend to care about Milan with that attitude

          1. So much hatred for Krunic…..

            Is there really any point in engaging with someone who is this obsessed with one player?

            Your inability to follow a basic train of thought is quite concerning.

          2. Hatred for Krunic?

            Naah, people just see him as he is. He’s not the GOAT. Just an average player. Always has been, always will be. One scudetto doesn’t make him the best midfielder in the world.

        2. I didn’t realize modern football was in shambles. Or is it only a shambles in your head? Because from what I see, generally and usually top talent go to top teams. Better youth players usually develop and get snapped up by top teams.

          And at this level, yes there’s a difference between the top 0.1% and the top 0.001%. always has been and always will. MBappe and Saelemakers are same age and top 1% of all players, it doesn’t make Saele better than MBappe. MBappe is after all top 0.001,% and Saele isn’t. And that’s what happens every year. Players, even though some of the best, get cut because there are other even better players for a given team and their tactics. The only reason why you’re able to say players who never went on loan did well is because they were the very very few ones that had potential to become starters. The majority of the other players probably not and will not see top flight football. You dont talk about Diniz, or Di Gennaro or Strasser because they were also the top of their cycle and weren’t good enough to cut it at the very top level.

          I’m genuinely trying to figure out your point. Are you saying we shouldn’t use the tools available to us or not? Abandon the transfer window or the loan/youth development system and in favour of what exactly?
          “This article talks about how players are loaned out to develop them. You presumably agree that they’re not because of the ‘harsh reality’”
          Some of the players we have on loan we want to move on while others we need to see how they develop. In some ways, yes there’s a harsh reality some of them might not make it. I’m taking here Romero, Maldini, Nasti, Pellegrino. We don’t have space in the current team ( whole basis for another discussion) so why not give them time of it can be afforded instead of zero time with the quality we have in the squad already.

          What’s your solution? I’m dying to know and don’t say zero transfers Lol 😂😂😂

          Even if we ban transfer in the youth system and we keep (which makes absolutely no sense btw) only the players we signed from 8 years old or whatever , what happens each year, when the 20 players in the Primavera “graduates” and is ready for first team football? Aren’t some of them going to get cut seeing as we already have 25 in the team? Genuinely looking forward to what u have to say about that

        3. i dn’t hate Krunic, but i think he just not that good & getting older,
          the main problem for me is the replacement, no-one better, not even than him. Krunic had many weakness but he’s flexible & effective, he read the game well & bit grinta. that’s Reinjer, Musah, Adli don’t have

    2. Idiocracy is still yapping about Krunic who was in awful form for us. I’m so glad he will leave permanently. The guy literally ruined passing in our midfield. Winning mentality lmao. What a joke.

      1. He moved the ball quickly and simply.

        That is literally one of the best things about him.

        It’s probably why Pioli (and actual qualified coach not an angry person on the internet) said that he was one of his most important players – he moved the ball in a manner that let other players excel.

        That is why moving the ball quickly is so important.

        That first pass you see – you have to hit it. No hesitation. Every second delayed means that the pass is gone, the player is marked, he’s made his run, whatever.

        Players holding onto the ball too long is the worst thing in football. It kills attacks.

        It’s why I find Adli so frustrating. I honestly don’t know how players time their runs with him. Clearly they’re at a level it works (maybe) but I just can’t see it.

        Krunic made Milan better, he was consistently part of the side that was transformed from mid table to champions and champions league semi-finalists, and is now continuing his success with his new club.

        He’s a winner. We let a winner go.

        And it’s not about Krunic. It’s about a system that makes decisions at a whim. Where one minute a player is in favour and the next they’re gone.

        There’s no strategy, no long term thinking, but there are lots of Hollywood passes. And I guess that impresses you.

      1. Can you name any more?

        I struggle to.

        Our loanees have played well for other teams, but how many have come back and played well for us?

        And there have been thousands of transfers. Milan averages about 100 transfers a season (as do most teams across the top 5 leagues).

        The share market is less chaotic.

        1. “few thousand? 100 transfers a season?”

          I think you moved the decimals to suit your agenda. =)

          Let’s say Primavera has 25-30 players and the men’s team 40. How do you get 100 transfers from those figures? I know… “Creative maths”. I’m sure you’ve learned a thing or two from the ex US president. Facts don’t matter. 🙂

    3. You call ppl idiots but you disprove your own argument. You don’t get to say Suso and Niang don’t count, just so your point holds water. Pobega is another although he’s not very good. Adli is another who was on loan. The rest of what you said doesn’t even warrant a response 🤦‍♂️

  2. CDK actually has a really good understanding of the game. He has a 2 step ahead pass thought process. And his vision is excellent, passing great. But sometimes his teammates are not in line with his vision. Still shy but I can see Atalanta taking up the option of this is how he is with his first “real” season in Serie A. He had a goal chalked off today vs Inter, so it’s not the lights.
    Romero I have a feeling will stay in LaLiga. Would have liked to see more of him but unfortunately Pioli had to appease the corporate side of things. Can’t bench a 20m player in favour of a free do you?

    1. Can’t play 3 right wingers at once!

      There’s bound to be winners and losers when you have too many players.

      That’s why squad sizes need to be kept down to a manageable size.

      1. I fully agree with keeping a sizable squad number. Mind you ,I believe transfers are necessary. But I’ve never understood a squad number of over 22 senior players. There should be no senior players signed solely to occupy any third choice spots, that’s a spot for the youth team players or for example Okafor as a second choice LW occupying third choice CF. Third choices did aften play 6 matches a season and half that as 10 minutes sub.. does it worth paying millions to a guy for that while slowing their development when you could instead be developing a youth player with that the space. Pep squads are barely 22 seniors. Most of the coaches / managements just panic with the thought of injuries and suspensions so would go for additional numbers. But those are part of the game and the reason you’ve reserves. Be brave to use them.

    2. If you can bench a 35 m player in favor of a loaner, why can’t you bench a 20m player in favor of a freebie?
      The problem is that both, the 20 m player and the freebie are/were barely used by the coach, just like the 35 mil player last season.

      1. @Z fair points. I do think someone had a conversation with Mister though. They made a splash over the summer and they’d like to see their new toys on the field especially the expensive ones.

      1. all depending on offers I actually think romero should be kept but clearly not as a starter he has some promise and i actually was hoping we would at least try to aquirre him on a free transfer before we even got him, There is promise there but he isnt a starter yet for us yet but could turn out to become one.

      1. Origi for us is one of the worst transfers for our needs. I’m sure he can be fine somewhere else as a bench player but what really grinds me are his wages which leads to be unable to move the player on easily

  3. Hopefully Romero can keep banging them in for Almeria then we can have him back next season as cover for Pulisic. I rather him than Chuck..

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