AC Milan’s decision to scour the French market for reinforcements is very much a sign of their strategy, according to L’Equipe’s Valentin Pauluzzi.
Milan have shopped in France quite a bit recently, with Rafael Leao and Pierre Kalulu having arrived from there, plus Mike Maignan from Lille and Fode Ballo-Toure from Monaco this summer, and of course France international Olivier Giroud having come from Chelsea.
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Pauluzzi spoke to MilanNews about the Rossoneri’s market and why it seems to be the strategy of directors Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara to target Ligue 1.
“Milan are following a certain logic market: in France the quality-price ratio is among the best and the French training centres churn out many strong players; it is not for nothing that the French national team is said to have three competitive teams,” he said.
“I liked Milan because it had a certain Italian identity: I know which, to date, is an anachronistic discourse, but it is struggling with the Italians and I’m a little sorry.”
The purchase of Giroud is certainly the most important of those made in the summer: what do you think he can give to Milan and what are his limits?
“Giroud, unlike Mandzukic, gives physical guarantees. He was in a competitive team, he was the top scorer of the Blues in the Champions League and he was part of Deschamps’ group at the European Championships.
“I see no limits, he will alternate with Ibrahimovic and physically he shouldn’t having problems holding up. He’s not Ibrahimovic, but in terms of characteristics he resembles him because he knows how to make his team-mates play around him and he scores goals.”
In Italy very few know Ballo-Toure (read our scouting report here), what kind of player is he?
“Ballo-Touré has similar strengths to Theo Hernandez: he has pace, explosiveness, physique, gets in behind, crosses; defensively he has to progress, especially on a tactical level and in marking. He fits in a squad of 25 players, considering he will not be the starter.”
After the first good season, is Kalulu ready for a year of maturation?
“Kalulu had an amazing first season by also scoring his first goal; he will continue his growth path. I liked how Pioli handled him; he didn’t hesitate to throw him in first and then he pulled him out again: so young people must be managed.”
For Theo Hernandez, on the other hand, will it be the season of definitive consecration as an absolute top player in his role?
“Theo has already consecrated himself after two years in Milan, we will see how he fares in the Champions League. I hope for him for a future in the national team, even if the competition remains very strong.”
The last Frenchman, but first in terms of position, is Maignan. Does he have what it takes to replace Donnarumma?
“Meanwhile, Maignan will find a favourable context, given that both the club and the fans will want to turn the page Donnarumma. He is a goalkeeper who has some experience and personality, in addition to technical and physical qualities: the conditions are good. France’s starter? There is Lloris who is the captain, I don’t know if Deschamps will upset the team in view of the 2022 World Cup.”
Milan will return to the Champions League this year: what do you expect from the Rossoneri’s European journey?
“It will be nice to hear the Champions League jingle for Milan, too much time has passed. The players will have to be worthy of the 7 Champions Leagues won, but we can’t be too demanding given the inexperience of many players at these levels; we’ll see the draw: if it happens the round of iron, patience, but first of all let’s enjoy Milan’s return to the Champions League.”