Player Ratings: AC Milan 1-0 Empoli – Kalulu unstoppable; one player disappoints

By Isak Möller -

AC Milan claimed all three points this evening and this made the most out of their win against Napoli last weekend. Pierre Kalulu was the big hero with the winner against Empoli tonight and down below are the player ratings. 

Starting XI

Maignan (6.5): He made a great save to keep Milan in the lead at the start of the second half and it proved to be decisive. He was also good with his feet, as you would expect, and had a few other good interventions. Maybe he even deserves a 7 for the second-half save.

Calabria (6.5): He worked extremely hard for the team this evening and was the winner of several duels with the Empoli players. Much better attacking-wise compared to the game against Napoli, in which he was a bit sloppy.

Kalulu (7.5 – MOTM): We are running out of positive adjectives for this man, what an amazing journey he has had since joining the club (for just €500k, by the way). It was a finish you wouldn’t normally expect from a centre-back that gave Milan the lead (also with his weak foot) and he was super solid in defence as well.

Tomori (7): Although Empoli improved a bit in the second half, Milan had such an advantage over their attack thanks to Kalulu and Tomori. The latter saw a lot of the ball tonight and was very comfortable. He was also great when not in possession.

Florenzi (6): In the end, he managed to get a pass for his fighting spirit and some positive sequences on the pitch. However, it’s also clear that he isn’t a left-back and one wonders how bad Ballo-Toure must be.

Bennacer (6.5): He has really stepped up in the second half of the season and tonight was another example of that. Bar a few moves that perhaps weren’t ideally executed, he was solid and in many ways directed the play of the Rossoneri.

Tonali (6.5): If Bennacer directed the play, then the youngster focused more on the defending. He looked a bit dizzy in the first half (he even barfed) but ended up playing on and ended up covering a lot of ground for Milan. On the left side, he was especially important, with Leao often high up and Florenzi not fully used to the left side.

Messias (6): It would be harsh to give him less than a pass as he had an advantage over his opponent for most of the game. He also created himself two nearly identical chances but the final touch just wasn’t there for him tonight.

Kessie (5.5): There’s no doubting his stamina and hard work, but that is the very least we expect from him these days. His touch was quite poor tonight and there were some promising situations that were heavily affected by that.

Leao (6.5): Although he didn’t get on the scoresheet, he was a constant danger for the Empoli defence and it’s clear that he’s very confident at the moment. He almost always got past his man (sometimes men) but the final touch was lacking.

Giroud (6): Another hard-working performance that included a few chances for the Frenchman, who didn’t find the back of the net this time. He had some decent opportunities, doing well to make himself available, but the efforts were either saved or blocked.


Diaz (6): It should be kept in mind that Pioli made his first subs in the 72nd minute, so take the subs ratings with a pinch of salt. Diaz did look promising, though, but Milan’s main focus was not to attack.

Saelemaekers (6): He was quite involved in the final stages of the game and helped Milan play out of some tough situations, which is always a plus when you’re defending a lead.

Rebic (N/A): He didn’t play enough to get a rating.

Ibrahimovic (N/A): He didn’t play enough to get a rating.

Krunic (N/A): He didn’t play enough to get a rating.

READ MOR – AC Milan 1-0 Empoli: Kalulu’s first half strike enough to keep the Rossoneri top

Tags AC Milan Empoli Pierre Kalulu


  1. Well, if Leao doesn’t bite, Milan hardly has a great game. Now the whole of Serie A marks out Leao with two defenders, like we have seen since the start of the year. Something needs to be done to take the load off him; and that’s for Pioli and Maldini to decide. Giroud worked hard on hold up plays but he needs to be more lethal, sometimes it feels like we have no striker in the game.

    The lack of a strong creative AM and RW is most evident. Messias was still his predictable self, and Kessie is still a shabbily glued-paper on the crack at best.

    The double pivot got the job done, Bennacer picked up were he left off in Naples, Tonali wasn’t too bad coming off suspension, but that Yellow card late in the game was incredibly stupid.

    Florenzi owned that LB, getting forward to link up perfectly with Leao. I wish the same can be said for the right wing. He’s such a versatile player. Since Milan only buys players who cost 5 million Euros or less, it shouldn’t be difficult to cough up that 4.5 million to sign him. Calabria was decent, I wish messias didn’t lose the ball too often to ruin the attacks from the RW. Tomori-Kalulu pairing was good, giving Romagnoli enough time to recover, but a lot can be done to improve. The Empoli players saw too much of the ball in the middle of our defence in the second half, anything could have happened. Thumbs up to Kalulu for that beautiful curler.

    The subs were not effective in my opinion, and non of them actually deserve a rating. We need to have our scoring boots on, this ‘1-0’ leads can’t always help us. We saw it against Salerniterna and Udinese. We won’t always be this lucky.

    Let’s enjoy the win nonetheless, as we march towards the title. Forza Milan!!!

    1. once again your evaluation is pretty spot on, defense saved our asses plain and simple. Kalulu has done two things ,one on the pitch ,obviously, but he has also made Romo realize he is not worth what he thinks he is. We need to get more involved with shooting straight on goal and work on second chance rebound shots and less on headers and servicing of headers into Giroud. This is where Diaz was effective. Saele deserves a start, way more energy and direct movement (and earlier/sooner) toward goal in transition, (remember his missed shot last game , he missed horribly but was all alone. we are to predictable this late in the season especially. against lower quality teams. Now my pet peeve, yes Leao is very good and more often than not, marked by two defenders. Once he gets a step he is by them, two things would improve his performance, one look for a pass and get the rest of our offense moving towards goal at the same pace, Saele does, Messias does not, Giroud tries, and Kessie…..he cares little, I am still convinced Rebic should be tried at the 10,played there Eintracht) before he came to AC. Back to Leao , when he does lose the ball he throws up his hands, walks with the pace of a snail and mopes around, he needs to get pissed and try to get it the ball back, I know Pioli sees this, maybe afraid of hurting his feelings (Leao’s) but the rest of the players see it and are pissed at the “golden boys” second chance efforts, needs to get after it . Great players do this. Tonali was foolish, and will need to sit out a game before we lose him in a big /needed game. Look forward to your next post game evaluation.

      1. Guys,

        We are top of the table with the current squad we have. You have no right to claim you would do a better job than Mr. Pioli.

        And maybe stop to think why Leao doesn’t chase back is because that’s what he is instructed to do. Maybe Mr. Pioli tells him not to do that he keeps two opposition players out of our attacking zone or if his markers go forward he is in an advanced position to receive the ball and do what he is best at.

  2. When Florenzi who was absolutely out of his comfort zone does more and looks better on the pitch than you, you need to take a moment to reflect. I doubt Kessie cares, he is already dreaming of Barca, but fact remains he was absolute garbage.

    1. If not for the Kalulu goal, Florenzi was definitely primed for MOTM.

      I really wish Kessie well if he ends up in Barca, and lots of Cash to his account, but he should understand that not every team is going to be as patient with him like Milan showed all these years. He will be cast aside after a few dismal performances. Somethings money can’t buy though.

      1. That Florenzi rating was not right, this guy, technical he is a gift to this team and he did so well but for the rating i say it’s way too low, came close to scoring, supplied a great amount of pull outs, and did very well defensively…

  3. Leao and constant don’t go together. That guy plays for about 30 min a game and then he is a ghost. His runs 99% of the time end up with him losing the ball. If he is to be considerate a great player he should dominate in these kind of games. He and Messias deserved a 4. Messias literally never moves the ball or pass, he constantly tries to go 1on1 and rarely beats his man. Maybe it’s time to give Samu some run out there

    1. Agree, Junior gets his pocket picked when he trys to move the ball along the touch line ,tonight he at least went to center and had a couple shots,however I feel as you do Saele. should get the start as he has shown improvement almost every game, he moves the ball earlier to the center of the pitch and if he does get his pocket picked is relentless in trying to get it back unlike Leao

  4. Kessie already lost interest to play for AC Milan ,he just want to stay fit for new season in his new club. Why not use Brahim or krunic instead of kessie. We need proper Winger that can crossing,leao and junior are good on speed and drible now but poor on crossing or key pass. We cannot use Giroud advantage on heading if continue depend on leao speed

  5. You know what…
    We don’t need Botman lol, kalulu is too good. Just renew Roma, and kjaer returns.
    How. How. How. Do you square in your mind, that Leao was better than Giroud? Leao did one good run, gave good pass to Giroud, Giroud had good shot, defender did good block. Summary of leao’s entire contribution right there.
    Giroud didn’t do amazingly, but he really tried. Messias cut back in and shot, at more than 2 km, which really surprised me, it actually worked. Why Rebic didn’t come on half time for Leao, i really don’t know, rebic always needs at least 25 mins before he starts to play well. I liked ibra coming on for 20 mins, he was full of energy and played much better. (His pass to rebic who said no i’m offside go get it yourself – ibra actually had the stamina and pace to go and get it, terrifying for opposition.)

  6. This game like many others proves my points usually like to discuss.

    We need a striker and a quality RW. Kalulu is great, always loved this guy. Also Gabbia needs more PT and will show his quality with time. Kjaer is also coming back for next season. IMO we don’t need Botman (nothing against hiim, he’s solid). But I suggest we either find a compromise with Romagnoli who can share starting time or get a young prospect with talent who doesn’t cost 30m like Botman.

    Then use those funds we save there to invest in Berardi for RW, get Belotti for free, get Sanches for midfield, a backup CB young prospect. And if we have funds left over which we likely will, we can get another attacker depending on formation. (If striker then Scamacca but not for 40m, closer to 25+bonuses) or can look for more wide depth who can also play AM like Noa Lang.

    Main thing here is that we have a talent in Kalulu and we would be wasting money on a spot we dont need to spend 30m on and we would also be crushing Kalulu’s development. Personally I have always liked him at CB and to sign a player intended to start and spend that much money is a slap in the face to his excellent performances.

    Please management forget Botman and use that money where we need it, RW, ST, and maybe AM formation depending.

      1. So quick to judge. People said the same with Calabria and we almost sold him. People said the same about Leao last year and this year he’s a player transformed. People said the same about Tonali last year and then this year he’s been our best midfielder by far…

        Gabbia may not ever reach a great level, it’s possible (I personally think he will if allowed to play) but the point is that it’s far far to early to cast judgement.

      2. I think you’re wrong but who knows he might not and you may be right. Bulk of my post was on Kalulu though and our transfers. I think Kalulu needs to play and doesn’t deserve to be permanent backup given his recent performances.

  7. To compete in CL next season we need a major upgrade in all positions except GK. LB can’t only depend on Theo, CB add botman is good, RB needs upgrade, RW definitely needs upgrade, CM needs kessie replacement, LW needs competition for Leao, AM needs upgrade, SC should sign Halland 😁.

    1. You supporting wrong team, this club never buy expensive player that cost more than 40m euro dan never give salary more than 9m euro / season . Go moving supporting PSG or Manchester city for your demand

  8. This game was toooo Allegri-style. Trying to save 1-0 instead of closing the question asap.
    I don’t agree with others complaining about Leao. Defense doesn’t work without attack. Leao kept opponents busy and it worked for defense as well.
    But he definitely needs some rest.
    Messias is becoming another Suso with his predictable right-to-left shakes and long-shots.
    I think sometimes it is better to start with Rebic and Castillejo to let Leao have some rest. He spends too much energy and runs on the edge of getting injured. We cannot risk the boy.
    And Rebic: against some teams, it is better to use muscles and brute force instead of speed and dribbling. We lack push movements when there’s no Theo.

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