Sacchi sceptical about decision to sign Okafor: “Milan will have to change”

By Oliver Fisher -

Former AC Milan head coach Arrigo Sacchi has taken a rather sceptical stance on the club’s decision to invest in signing Noah Okafor from Red Bull Salzburg.

Okafor became Milan’s sixth signing of the summer, as Fabrizio Romano among other sources has stated that Milan signed Okafor for €13-14m and that he signed a deal worth €2m net per season.

The Swiss international spoke in an interview with Milan TV in which he revealed his emotions after making the switch, and we published an analysis of his playing style including his strengths, weaknesses and the role that he might be used in by Pioli.

Sacchi spoke during a column for La Gazzetta dello Sport in which he addressed not only Milan’s signing of Okafor but also the rumours suggesting that rivals Inter are pursuing Marko Arnautovic of Bologna.

“The ‘centre-forward’ topic is certainly the most popular of the summer. We talk about it under the umbrellas, between one swim and another, during a trip on the mountain paths,” he began.

“The fans, who never switch off, discuss the topic with their usual passion and wonder if the newly acquired player, or the one pursued, is perfect for their team, if he has the right qualities, if he will really make a difference.

“Looking at the panorama, it must be admitted that Napoli, with president De Laurentiis having confirmed Osimhen will stay because he has a contract and is therefore not on the market, as far as this role is concerned, starts in pole position.

“The same cannot be said for Milan and Inter, both still looking for the element that can complete the group. The Nerazzurri have asked Arnautovic to Bologna, the Rossoneri, at the moment, only have Okafor as Giroud’s backup.

“It will be said: a bit too little for two clubs that aspire to chase the Scudetto and want to be protagonists in the Champions League.

“But here we need to do an in-depth analysis and explain, once and for all, that the centre-forward is important, indeed very important, provided there is a team with a game capable of supplying him. Otherwise we can also put the best in the world up front, but we won’t solve anything.

“First of all, it is necessary to understand what kind of centre-forward the coach needs. A killer, ruthless in the penalty area and with goals in his blood, or a more manoeuvrable player who loves to participate in the construction of the action and dialogue with his teammates?

“Or perhaps he needs a good header of the ball because he intends to put so many crosses into the opponent’s box? This choice, which is mainly up to the coach, is fundamental.

“At Milan I had Van Basten who was a phenomenon and in his DNA he was both a killer and a driver, and then I had Virdis who was above all a killer, but thanks to his work, his will and his commitment he improved a lot and is even managed to score a goal in a derby by stealing the ball in pressing.

“What do Inter need? Lautaro is already there, so we need to look for an element that can go well with the Argentine and that fills any gaps.

“You probably need an element that acts as a link, which helps in the disengagement phase, which compacts the team when it is too stretched: distances, in modern football, are fundamental and often we do not notice them.

“The killer at Inter is Lautaro, so I think a player with a broad vision would be useful, willing to sacrifice, able to duet with the midfielders who insert themselves.

“Dzeko was magnificent in this job. I don’t know if Arnautovic could be suitable: he’s technically good, and he’s also powerful. But in the long run it must be Simone Inzaghi who writes a score that puts his attackers in a position to be lethal.

“The situation in Milan is different, because the way in which Pioli is setting up the team is different. The Rossoneri, at least at the start of the season, are favouring a 4-3-3 formation. So, two wingers and a centre-forward.

“Okafor’s best bit is his starting point in speed, he varies well on the wings, he is a striker with movement. Completely different from Giroud, so to speak. If he has to take the Frenchman’s place, it is logical, Milan will have to change the way they serve the first striker.

“But I wouldn’t overlook young Columbo. I followed him to Lecce last season, in my opinion he moves well, has physical prowess, good technique and is suitable for playing between two wingers who dish out balls for him in the middle of the box.

“However, even in this case, it is necessary that the whole team supports him, continuously feeding the manoeuvre, with constant and offensive pressing.

“You see that, in the end, we always talk about a collective and not just about an individual (the centre-forward in this case) because football, despite many forgetting about it, is a sport that is practiced in eleven teams, where everyone must contribute to the success of the team.”

Tags AC Milan Arrigo Sacchi


  1. I always wonder how Sacchi would use our current group of players, how he would implement his game plan, as a attacking coach it would be interesting to see.

    1. the football has change a lot from when the legendary Arrigo Sacchi was manager it would be disaster if he be our manager ,
      the german have a lot of young modern managers that like to use fast players to built their attack , they would be perfect to what our team need and they style fit our players perfectly
      if marco rose available we should get him i like his style alot

  2. I agree with Sacch actually, for a change. We have a balanced coach in Pioli with modern approach of high-pressure, counter attacking, adaptive team. What he needs most for his system is versatile group which can change tactics not only for different opponents but different match phases. And what is missing in this right now is a different type of center forward. I say — go for Lukaku. You wont have another chance to get such a scorer for this money. Putting aside all his problems this will pit us as contenders to win every competition we are in.

    1. Personally I despise Lukaku…but you’re right. He’s class. He’s guaranteed to score double digits, even splitting starts with Giroud. If they can make it work financially, they should do it. Plus it would piss off Inter 🙂

    2. Lukaku and his 9.3M net salary? 17M gross btw. That’s pounds not €.
      What planet do you live on?
      Not only is he dog cráo, he cost more than leoa and theo combined.
      Yeah, very doable for Milan. Lukaku ftw

      1. Lukaku would never get that much paid to him and is currently without a club. Milan would have to give him a low offer for a year just so he can get back on track and contribute.

        If I were him, i’d play for cheap just to become more marketable the following year to a different club.

        We just need Camarda to hurry up and grow up 🙂

  3. Okafor scored more goals as a centre forward, than left and right winger combined.
    Okafor is already investment, and it is not reasonable to use him on winger positions when we have 3 good wingers in Leao, Chukwueze and Pulisic. If Colombo and Origi stays, Pioli have numbers for rotation.
    Still, those are not best options, but last year with Rebic, Ibrahimovic and Origi, Milan managed to use only Giroud. Now, more time Pioli must able to Okafor and Colombo/Origi.

  4. Pioli gotta figure out 2 systems for two st players. One for giroud as the target man. The other for okafor with his speed and mobility..
    That’s about it.
    And then the players can adapt to whoever is starting in the St.
    I think okafor has potential.. this team has potential to play real quick football

  5. Okafor is a highly versatile player. Can play every mode of attack. What not to like? Both wings and a CF.

    Sacchi is a good man but has ideas from a different era of football.

    1. Sachi is different era but he introduced modern football that you should remember.
      There can’t be better coach than Sachi.

  6. When you see how Tonali was used today by Eddie Howe on 4-3-3 formation ,how many moves he did the intensity and the search for verticality, its millimeter reversal towards Gordon, you understand how bad that mf pseudo-coach is !! the only tactical approach and game plan he have when we won the scudetto (ofcourse with a lots of lack ) is : Theo give the ball to Leao , Maigan save our ass please!! the only credit i can give him is the high pressing on some game phase, the corners are badly played, the set pieces too, and even when he try to copy one of the best coaches on the world (Guardiola ) for the using of stones on the midfield , he copied badly (with a lots of approximation ofcourse , he used the finished Florenzi instead of Thiaw (who he was formed a central midfielder in Schalke , and you can see the quality of his pass ) on the friendly games )!!!!! stop overthinking and approximation please Pioli, you won’t be Sacki or Guardiola !! Get back to the 4-2-3-1 formation !! there is no time for that !!

  7. People if I were in the Management shoes I would rather sign Beto of Udinise than that Voodoo man Lakuku of Inter,that guy is a waste and should treated so.Meanwhile Beto has everything we need in our Center Forward and would deliver considering he’s technical,powerful ,mobile, he’s strong in the air,he knows the league and very comfortable Infront of goal and unlike Lakuku he’s good with his feet too.
    I rest my case.

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