GdS: Milan have three ideas to fill the void left by Kessie – the key numbers for each

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan are looking at three different options to replace Franck Kessie with each bringing very different strengths to the table.

La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Renato Sanches of Lille is the first choice target because of his ability to play as a playmaker and in the double pivot, while Hamed Traore of Sassuolo would be part of the forward line (as Kessie was towards the end of last season) and Douglas Luiz of Aston Villa would be more defensive minded.

Sanches has long been the number one profile to replace Kessie given his ability to function as a number 10 or as a ball-carrying deep-lying playmaker. Last year he served 5 assists and scored 2 goals in 25 games (20 as a starter). His Achilles heel is injuries because in the last three years at Lille, he has missed 39 games.

In comparison with the other two targets he is first for opportunities created per 90 (1.9) and above all balls played (81), which is 20 more than the others.

Douglas Luiz is more of a classic reliable defensive midfielder. He has missed just 11 games out of 114 in the Premier League in three seasons with Villa, and he has international recognition given he won Olympic gold with Brazil in Tokyo in the summer.

At Villa he plays as the central pivot of a three-man midfield, and he had 31 starts out of 34 appearances last season in the league, with 2 goals and 3 assists. He shot on goal 53 times in total, but he won at least two tackles per game which is more than the other two targets. His average touches in the opposing area is 0.3 per 90, which shows he rarely gets forward, but he completed 87% of the passes he attempted in 2021-22.

Traore is the most attacking of the three. The 22-year-old got 8 goals and 4 assists in the last season, and he can also play as a winger and as a box-to-box midfielder. He is a natural attacking midfielder and for Empoli Primavera he played as a 10, then De Zerbi and Dionisi made him an all-round multi-purpose attacking player.

Traore would take up the role Kessie did towards the end of the Scudetto season, meaning he would replace Brahim Diaz. The stats show his intent to be dangerous: 65% of his shots are on target, he creates 1.8 chances per game and plays an average of 63 balls, with 3.1 successful dribbles per game and 4.9 touches in the opposing penalty area.

In short, three very different players who cover the entire spectrum of what Kessie did while at Milan: a physical destroyer type, a box-to-box midfielder and an attacking presence.

Tags AC Milan Douglas Luiz Hamed Junior Traore Renato Sanches


  1. I would like to see:

    Origi – Signs
    Ziyech – Signs
    CDK – Signs
    Sanchez – Signs
    LWB – Signs

    Romagnoli – Renews
    Leao – Renews
    Bennacer – Renews
    Zlatan – Renews

    Castilejo – Sold
    Ballo-Toure – Sold
    Saladmaker – Sold

    Gabbia – Loaned out
    Colombo – Loaned out
    Maldini – Loaned out

    Starting could look like this:


    LWB (backup for Theo)

    1. So Renato Sanches, by far the best midfielder in the squad is on the bench?
      Also Origi left Liverpool because he was a bench player to come and be a bench player at Milan behind Giroud?

  2. Kessie – attacking presence. Ok. He scored a few goals in one match, it would be time to stop talking like he is Patrick Viera. You’ll see at Barcelona how much he can’t play football really really.

    1. Kessie is a top level player, he will only get better by playing around good players.
      The main thing he brings to the Barcelona midfield is his physicality.
      On a good day, Kessie understands football at that level, I think he’s coming to replace Busquet, and will be surrounded with quality ballers like Frenkie de Jong, Pedri and Gavi.

        1. Are you really serious?
          Pedri a player with a €1 billion release clause?
          Thesame clause is being offered in Gavi’s new contract.

          You just watch football, it’s obvious you know nothing about football.
          We are talking about generational talents here.
          Because they are not your conventional worn out old names, you certainly will not recognise talents.

          You are myopic and daft, and please don’t get me wrong, I’m only just trying to complement you.

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