MN: What Milan would gain and lose by replacing Kessie with Renato Sanches

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan will say goodbye to Franck Kessie after half a decade at the club, and attention can now turn to who his potential replacement will be.

MilanNews writes how the Ivorian and his agent George Atangana have chosen to go a different way after being at Milan for five years and a future in Spain with Barcelona awaits. The Rossoneri are used to this now after Gianluigi Donnarumma and Hakan Calhanoglu left last year, and now the scrutiny is on whether the management can replace him.

The report compares Kessie with Renato Sanches, and remarks how the former very skilled in coverage and recovering the ball, with an excellent propensity to sacrifice and a good reading of the various defensive situations, but he sometimes struggle when it comes to quick distribution of the ball and decision making in transition.

Renato Sanches remains an average if not below average player when it comes to these defensive capabilities even though his reading of the game when out of possession has improved at Lille. Where he stands out is where Kessie struggles as the Portuguese channels all his power into the progression and forward movement of the ball through dribbling and passing.

This was seen first hand when Milan lost 3-0 in the group stage of the Europe League against Lille in 2020-21 as Renato ran the show, showing his impressive ball carrying and the ability to create chances, functioning as almost a pure No.10 but with the physicality and explosiveness of a box to box player.

Stefano Pioli’s coaching will be key and in particular the instructions he gives to Sanches from a pressing and coverage point of view, but it is likely his assignments will certainly be different from Kessie’s.

The other point of comparison concerns the physical condition. Kessie was an incredibly reliable player from this point of view while the opposite can be said about the ex-Benfica man, who missed 13 and 14 games in the last two seasons respectively due to physical problems. Despite the summer injury and a month away for the African Cup of Nations, Kessie reached 39 appearances in 2021-22, versus 32 for the Portuguese.

The management deserve trust given how they have replaced players and used their analysis to build a Scudetto winning side, and they have evidently made the assessments on Renato Sanches, which he will now be called upon to confirm.

Tags AC Milan Franck Kessie Renato Sanches


  1. This article points out what I’ve been posting on this website for months — it’s that Sanches is great going forward and making incisive passes and taking on defenders one v one with good dribbling. He is all about the offensive creativity and NOT about defense.

    So what I’ve been posting for MONTHS is that he is NOT A KESSIE REPLACEMENT! He’s a Brahim Diaz replacement. We already have our 2 defensive midfielders in Bennacer and Tonali if Pioli continues with the 4-2-3-1 formation.

    Sanches would be a liability being in the double pivot with either Tonali or Isma because of his poor defense and it would also waste having one of our 2 very key players on the bench. Diaz was terrible last year so I have absolutely ZERO idea why people aren’t talking about Sanches coming in to play the CAM position (which is exactly what he’s perfectly suited to play for us) and they keep talking about him over and over as Kessie replacement. Makes NO SENSE!

    1. Agreed! and Origi is not a Striker – he is more of a winger.

      This is how we should play:




      Theo—–Tomori—-B or K—-Calabria


      *B or K= Botman or Kalulu


      We should sign R. Sanches.
      We should sign another Striker (I think Scamacca to learn from Ibra).
      We should sign a Theo backup (Cambiasso?).
      We should keep Pobega.
      We should sign another midfielder (backup to Bennacer).
      Keep Krunic as a general midfiled backup.
      We should sell Saladmaker, Castillejo, Ballo-Toure.
      Loan out Maldini

      1. i totally agree with you, infact you have said it all, but my worry is that are the management aware of these our suggestion¿?? I which we can communicate our ideas to them

      2. How can Calabria be starting when Kalulu and (potentially) Botman are at the club? There’s no way. Back line should be: Hernandez – Botman – Tomori – Kalulu.

    2. Correct assessment,DB. Sanchez and Bennacer can play behind the #9 with Tonali being the only pivot. Certainly an option as all 3 center mids will bring a different yet diverse roles to the unit. FORZA MILAN.

      p.s. add DeKetelaar,too……….we are set!!

  2. The only thing I’d change with that starting 11 is to move Kalulu to right back, put Calabria on the bench.

    Slide Tomori over to be the right centerback (where he is more comfortable) and insert Botman (a left footed player) into the left center back position where he’s most comfortable.

  3. i totally agree with you, infact you have said it all, but my worry is that are the management aware of these our suggestion¿?? I which we can communicate our ideas to them

  4. Milan Letting Kessie go for free after REDBIRD takeover Is shameful.
    Kessie though still developing is a joy to watch defensively. Sanches is not a defensive midfielder neither is Tonali nor Bennacer. (They all are Central midfielders CM )
    Kessie however is a proper (Defensive and Central midfielder DM and CM ).

    1. Joy to watch? LOL Did you watch him this season? Apart from the last 5 games, Kessie was bang average. He will flop at Barca, guaranteed.

Comments are closed

Serie A Standings

Live football scores . Current table, fixtures & results.