Pioli discusses Krunic’s unusual role, Leao’s issue plus potential for striker and defender signing in January

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli believes the management will intervene in the transfer market if needed and discussed deploying Rade Krunic in an unprecedented role.

Pioli spoke to the reporters who gathered in the San Siro press room to reflect on another crucial three points, with his comments transcribed by MilanNews, starting by responding to the idea that his side took another step forward by winning and keeping another clean sheet.

Did Milan take another step today?

“Today a positive and important performance also from the mental and point of view. We prepared and interpreted it well. We could have scored the third goal and that’s another growth that we must have, despite the fact that the team played with intensity and mastery throughout the game.”

There were a couple more injury worries for Pioli to dissect after Simon Kjaer’s season-ending knee problem in midweek as Rafael Leao came off at half-time and Pietro Pellegri limped off early on with a muscle issue.

“I’m sorry for Pellegri, it was his chance and his match. Leao took a blow, his muscle was hardening a bit and there was no need to risk him. I think the excitement in preparing for the next match will rise quickly and Liverpool are the most prestigious opponent we could meet; we wanted this opportunity. Tuesday night’s performance depends on us, regardless of the opponent’s qualities,” he said.

Salernitana have now lost 12 of their opening 16 games as they are struggling in their first season back in the top flight since the 1998-99 season, remaining rooted to the bottom of the table.

“Salernitana played the game they usually do. Our individual bets immediately broke the bank and everything became more difficult for them. They can have the opportunity to play for salvation until the end.”

The second half was actually quite a wasteful performance from Milan as they missed numerous big opportunities to fully put the game to bed.

“Can we be more clinical? Definitely. When you create so much you need to finish better, even the young age of our players matters a little bit. This gives us energy and enthusiasm. We need to finish better: to score goals you need quality.”

Given the injuries to Kjaer and now to Pellegri, Pioli was asked if the club need to sign a forward or a defender in January.

“This is not the time to think about the transfer market. We have to stay focused on the next matches. I know I have very attentive and prepared managers behind us: if there is a chance to improve, the club will do it.”

On the determining factor: “The most important situation is the depth of the team. We have made the game simple with our rhythm and our qualities: it means that we are also growing in mentality in the preparation of certain matches before very important matches.”

Finally, Pioli spoke about Krunic taking up a position that resembled a false nine in many ways.

“He was prepared and thought out during the match. Leao can also play as a striker, but he was doing well on the left. I was undecided between Krunic and Messias; Rade put 4-5 balls in that weren’t met. The important thing for the players is find the useful spaces; even with Ibra we play without a striker, but I like it like this: better empty and then fill up with many players.”

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