Rangnick’s reported 16-man Milan wish list: Background, stats and transfer ratings

By Oliver Fisher -

With no action on the field to focus on, plenty of the media attention surrounding football – in particular Milan – has resorted to off-field matters.

One of the more interesting reports came on Tuesday when Tuttosport made the claim that Ralf Rangnick has already drawn up a shortlist of targets for if he joins Milan, with some outlets believing he will become the next head coach and sporting director of the Rossoneri.

The Turin-based outlet mentioned as many as 16 names as part of the possible shopping spree, with some of the most exciting young players in European football included.

Here we take a look at each name and whether they could be considered a good fit for the ‘new Milan’ under Rangnick, a manager who prefers a high-intensity, youth-oriented approach to football…

1. Ethan Ampadu (centre-back, on loan at RB Leipzig from Chelsea)

Ampadu joined Leipzig on loan last summer from Chelsea but has made just seven appearances in all competitions. Despite being just 19 and having a bright future – already established as a Wales international – it seems as though Milan need a more ready-made partner for Alessio Romagnoli, especially considering they already have young duo Matteo Gabbia and Leo Duarte on the books.

Transfer rating: 2/10

2. Nordi Mukiele (right-back, RB Leizpig)

Milan’s problems at right-back this season are well documented, and you could easily make a case for selling both Andrea Conti and Davide Calabria in favour of two new players. Mukiele is a versatile player who at 22 has proven he can play on the right side of the defence, at centre-back or in midfield.

When starting games this season he averages a rating of over 7 on WhoScored in each position he has played. Milan need depth, and this would be a shrewd pick up.

Transfer rating: 8/10

3. Amadou Haidara (central midfielder, RB Leipzig)

Haidara has amassed just over 800 minutes of action this season across the Bundesliga and Champions League, but the 22-year-old Mali international is another player tipped for a bright future within the Leipzig squad.

He could arguably form a fantastic double pivot alongside Ismael Bennacer, but his best performances this season have come in a slightly more advanced role (again as per WhoScored). Depending on the system Rangnick wants to play, his versatility – like that of Mukiele – could be key.

Transfer rating: 6/10

4. Dominik Szoboszlai (wide midfielder, Red Bull Salzburg)

Szoboszlai has actually played left midfield, central midfield and right midfield so far for Salzburg this season, and he is the third player out of four on the list so far who are known for versatility.

With four goals and seven assists in 29 games in all competitions this season, the 19-year-old Hungarian international is beginning to attract interest from a number of top European clubs and with good reason. He looks quick, dynamic, powerful and exciting and is exactly the kind of player that the right project and system could be moulded around – in time of course.

Transfer rating: 8/10

5. Jerome Onguene (centre-back, Red Bull Salzburg)

Onguene has been a virtual ever-present for Salzburg this campaign having amassed over 2000 minutes of game time across 25 appearances. He has also earned international recognition with Cameroon, earning a cap when he was 20 years old (now 22).

Again though like the Ampadu situation, it feels as though if Milan are to invest in the centre of defence then a slightly less risky and more established player would be needed, such as Dayot Upamecano. If Mateo Musacchio and Simon Kjaer were both to leave though, depth might be needed, and it could be a good move if the finances were right.

Transfer rating: 4/10

6. Kristoffer Ajer (centre-back, Celtic)

Ajer is an interesting player because he is an unknown quantity to most, given that he plays in the Scottish League, but continues to be linked with a move to clubs in England with top-four aspirations like Leicester and Spurs.

At 21 years of age there is no doubt he is a promising future profile, and he has racked up 57 appearances since the start of the season when factoring in internationals too. He has a good WhoScored rating (6.78), but Milan need to consider what they want from a potential centre-back signing, especially one that is rumoured to have a valuation of €30m. Some also say the Norwegian is error-prone at times, and his actual physical profile is similar to that of Gabbia.

Transfer rating: 4/10

7. Robin Koch (centre-back, Freiburg)

Another talented Bundesliga player that the report mentioned was Robin Koch of SC Freiburg. The 23-year-old has been exceptional over the last couple of seasons to the extent that he has earned two caps for Germany, and funnily enough Leipzig – for whom Rangnick controls the recruitment – reportedly saw a €15-20m bid rejected.

Right-footed (the side Milan need), strong in the air and a good distributor, you can not only make the case that Koch is the perfect partner for Romangoli but also that he might be a better, more cost-effective option that Upamecano for example.

Transfer rating: 8/10

8. Youcef Atal (right-back, Nice)

Now we move to Ligue 1 and a player that Milan have been strongly linked with in recent months: Youcef Atal. The Algeria international (and team-mate of Ismael Bennacer) made 14 appearances before having surgery on his knee, but registered a 7.15 overall rating for the campaign on WhoScored, showing he was doing something right.

Milan desperately need a solution to their right-back problem, but Atal is known more for his attacking endeavour and given the balance of the team and how Theo Hernandez virtually plays half way up the pitch, it may not be the best combination. Still, trust Rangnick’s instinct if a full-back like him does arrive.

Transfer rating: 6/10

9. Yari Verschaeren (attacking midfielder, Anderlecht)

Good luck pronouncing this one. Milan have already signed a talented youngster from Anderlecht in Alexis Saelemaekers – a winger who hasn’t featured much – but his team-mate Verschaeren is attracting attention with his impressive displays.

The attacking midfielder is an established starter for the Belgian giants at just 18 years old, and has amassed two goals and one assist in 22 appearances in all competitions this season. He has been compared by some to Eden Hazard due to his stature and style of play, and is a Belgium international already. Milan are looking for exciting young creative talent, and Verschaeren could be a welcome alternative to the heavily-linked Dani Olmo, who ended up at Leipzig.

Transfer rating: 7/10

10. Matias Zaracho (attacking midfielder, Racing Club)

Zaracho has been the playmaker most frequently linked to Milan over the past few months, with all kinds of reports regarding an agreement with the player and bids being put on the table.

He has five goals and two assists in 21 appearances so far in the 2019-20 campaign and has gained a reputation as one of the most promising youngsters in Argentine football, though there is a risk factor involved in paying out a potential big fee to a player of his nature, as seen with the investment made on Lucas Paqueta. One to explore if he is a Rangnick target and not a Maldini target, and if the price is right.

Transfer rating: 7/10

11. Teun Koopmeiners (defensive midfielder, AZ Alkmaar)

Among the teams in Europe known for playing an entertaining and energetic style of football built around young players and an exciting system there are of course Leipzig and Salzburg, but AZ Alkmaar belong in that category too and it’s thanks to players like Koopmeiners.

The 22-year-old is already the captain of the Eredivisie side and has 16 goals and three assists in 42 appearances across the league, cup and Europa League this season and as a holding midfielder he could slot perfectly into the current side. He also has an average rating of well over comfortably over 7 in all competitions (via WhoScored). A future Netherlands international without a doubt, this guy could be worth big money.

Transfer rating: 9/10

12. Myron Boadu (striker, AZ Alkmaar)

The second of the Alkmaar duo on the list is centre-forward Myron Boadu, and the stats speak for themselves with the 19-year-old. He has 20 goals and 13 assists in all competitions this season and has established himself as one of the brightest and most promising all-round strikers in Europe under the age of 20.

He can also play as a left-winger, which instantly makes us think what signing a player like Boadu would mean for the future of Rafael Leao, someone Rangnick may wish to bet on. Given his age and contract situation (until 2023), Boadu would almost certainly demand a huge fee too. If the opportunity is there though, it would be a statement signing.

Transfer rating: 7/10

13. Jonathan David (attacking midfielder/striker, Gent)

The Brooklyn-born Jonathan David has attracted a lot of plaudits for his performances this season, during which he has amassed a combined 33 goals and assists in 40 games across all competitions, playing as both a striker and in behind as a trequartista.

The Canada international is small in stature but that helps the ‘raumdeuter’ or space-finding element of his game. He is quick, has a low centre of gravity, an eye for a pass and a wicked shot. There will absolutely be top clubs circling around him very soon, so this could be a bargain and an upgrade on Hakan Calhanoglu.

Transfer rating: 9/10

14. Jann-Fiete Arp (striker, Bayern Munich)

Arp is one of the most talked-about prospects in German football and has been since his days at Hamburger SV and especially since his move to FC Bayern, but this season he has scored just twice in seven games for their reserve side in the 3. Liga.

He has missed 17 games due to three different problems this season, and the gut feeling regarding Arp is that the talent is there, but he would represent a big risk currently given the fee Bayern would likely command and how long he would take to adapt to Italian football and get back up to game speed.

Transfer rating: 3/10

15. Alexander Isak (striker, Real Sociedad)

Alexander Isak might as well be officially known as ‘the next Zlatan’ since the media have pinned that moniker to his name so much, and the talented young Swede has recovered nicely scoring 14 goals this season for Real Sociedad after a bad spell at Borussia Dortmund that was probably a big move just too soon.

On the face of things Isak fits Rangnick’s style very well as a striker who will press, works the channels, is quick and has a presence both in the air and on the ground. However, again there are doubts since his spell with BVB – who also have a buy-back option – meaning other targets on the list may be a better fit. If Ralf wants him though, it will be for good reason.

Transfer rating: 5/10

16. Victor Osimhen (striker, Lille)

Interestingly, Victor Osimhen was essentially signed by Lille as their replacement for Leao, who joined Milan last summer. The production of the Portuguese forward has been more than replaced too, as Osimhen has 18 goals and six assists in 38 games across Ligue 1, the Champions League and the two French domestic cups.

His WhoScored rating is over 7 for the season overall, and his exploits are even seemingly attracting the interest of Real Madrid and Barcelona among others. There is no doubt the Nigeria international would be an excellent coup though and a statement acquisition to kick off the ‘Rangnick Revolution’.

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Tags AC Milan Alexander ISak Amadou Haidara Dominik Szoboszlai Ethan Ampadu Jann-Fiete Arp Jerome Onguene Jonathan David Kristoffer Ajer Matias Zaracho Myron Boadu Nordi Mukiele Robin Koch Teun Koopmeiners Victor Osimhen Yari Verschaeren Youcef Atal