Satisfying signings and super subs: Milan finally enjoying a spread threat

By Oliver Fisher -

Strength in depth is not an expression that AC Milan fans have become too acquainted with in recent seasons, but they might finally be watching a squad that has more options than just the 11 who start games.

Looking at the 2022-23 side as an example, it was clear to see where the gaps were. Olivier Giroud and Rafael Leao were overworked, the playmaker spot was a void because Charles De Ketelaere didn’t adapt, and the right wing never had an established starter.

Moving beyond the attack, the midfield duo of Ismael Bennacer and Sandro Tonali were probably used a bit too much and it was because they had to be. Neither Rade Krunic nor Tommaso Pobega offered close to the same guarantees, while Aster Vranckx didn’t gain Stefano Pioli’s trust.

The 2022 summer transfer window was regarded by many as a negative one because it didn’t really bolster the depth available to Pioli at all, with various factors to blame. A whole 18 months later, things have very much changed.

Big impact

As our colleagues at write, the 2023 summer transfer window has so far brought 24 goals out of a total of 51 scored by the Rossoneri across all competitions, i.e. the league, Champions League and Coppa Italia.

More specifically in Serie A, the goals contributed from new signings is 19 out of 41 – therefore almost half – which is a stark comparison to the numbers from last season overall.

Last year there were only five goals from the summer signings: three from Tommaso Pobega (who actually returned from a loan and was not a new acquisition) and two from Divock Origi.

The 2023 class of summer additions also surpassed the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons: in the first campaign the new players scored 17 goals in total, in the second – that of the Scudetto – the goals scored were 22.

Considering exclusively Pioli’s tenure as head coach, only the first season – in which he took over from Marco Giampaolo – saw more goals scored by the new signings. In 2019-20 the number was 38, thanks above all to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ante Rebic.

The breakdown

Who exactly have been the most prolific contributors out of the 10 signings Geoffrey Moncada and co. welcomed a few months ago? Who has justified the investment the most?

Christian Pulisic: 7 goals, 6 assists

At the moment, the American winger Milan’s most prolific acquisition, with 13 goal contributions in 27 appearances. The former Chelsea man averaged a goal every 276 minutes, managing to get on the scoreboard six times in the league and once in the Champions League.

What is interesting is the rather anomalous distribution of goals for Pulisic: he scored three times in his first month at Milan and then another three times in the next four months, but he did have a great December.

Luka Jovic: 6 goals, 1 assist

Milan’s second-best signing in terms of goals scored is Jovic, who arrived in the final hour of the mercato and – by Pioli’s admission – needed time to get into shape which meant he struggled for minutes initially.

Since December, however, his season has changed radically with six goals scored in his last seven games played and an average goal of one every 114 minutes at almost one per game.

Noah Okafor: 4 goals, 1 assist

The player who arguably has the most impressive numbers among Milan’s new signings is Okafor, who been the victim of several muscle injuries that kept him away from the pitch for a good part of the season.

However every time he was called into action he almost always responded by scoring: he has four goals in just 412 minutes played in the league (average goal of one every 103 minutes).

Ruben Loftus-Cheek: 3 goals, 2 assists

The English midfielder immediately started well at Milan, scoring a goal in his first month as a Rossoneri player, and then following that up with a four-month fast.

That ended with the two goals netted in the last three games – meaning all three have come in the league – while those similar finishes against Empoli and Udinese lower Loftus-Cheek’s average to a goal every 373 minutes played.

Tijjani Reijnders: 2 goals, 3 assists

The Dutch midfielder has struggled to find a way to score more regularly this season, given that it took him 12 games to get his name up on the scoreboard in the win against Lecce.

Reijnders scored another goal against Monza and recorded an assist in the match played against Roma. An average of a goal every 1204 minutes is not brilliant though, especially for a player who hit double digits last season with AZ Alkmaar

Samuel Chukwueze: 2 goals, 1 assist

Chukwueze is still without a goal in the league, where he only collected one assist in 504 minutes played, but the winger is a player who seemed to like the ‘European nights’.

In the Champions League, the Nigeria international scored against Borussia Dortmund and Newcastle United, obtaining an incredible goal average of one goal every 83 minutes. Now he must transfer that domestically, especially given he was the most expensive purchase.

Super subs and a spread threat

What is the benefit of having so many contributions from the new signings, and subsequently having more options to call upon? Well, the answer is two-fold.

The goal scored earlier in the month by Yacine Adli against Roma means that Milan have had 12 different scorers in the league after 21 rounds of action.

Only two teams in Serie A have more different goal scorers than the Rossoneri: Juventus and Frosinone, both of whom are on 13.

Here is the list of all the Rossoneri players who have scored in the league in 2023-24: Giroud, Pulisic, Theo Hernandez, Leao, Okafor, Tomori, Loftus-Cheek, Reijnders, Jovic, Jan-Carlo Simic, Chaka Traorè and Adli.

Rather than being too reliant on Leao and Giroud to come up with the goods no matter the occasion, Pioli has been able to embrace a more spread attacking threat which makes his side more unpredictable.

Not all of these players can start, however, which is why the head coach has to be good at managing rotations but also bringing players off the bench who are best placed to serve the cause.

A perfect example of this would be the 3-2 win over Udinese at the weekend, when Jovic and Okafor each netted off the bench – both inside the final 10 minutes and the latter in added time to win it – to steal the victory.

That continued a positive trend: nine goals have arrived from players brought on during games for Milan this season, which is the most in Serie A above Roma and Napoli (both eight).

Okafor and Jovic have three goals, then Pulisic, Traore and Simic join the list. It is also further proof that the new signings are doing well.

While Milan might not be on course for multiple trophies as this demanding fanbase expects, the goal is to accelerate further in the coming weeks after winning four on the spin in the league.

Tags AC Milan


  1. That’s the trouble with moneyball – you wind up with too many players scoring too many goals and winning too many games 🤦‍♂️ #Moncadaout

      1. Right – it must be weaker because secretly (or not so secretly in some cases) they want this team to fail so they can say “I told you so!”

        1. Well we’ll know at the end of the season but it doesn’t look like we’re going to make it to the semi-finals of the Champions League….

          1. We would not have made the semis this year with last years squad. The new signees have been a major help and I am sorry for anyone who cannot see that.

          2. Technically, if based on our own sporting merits, we would not even have qualified for this season’s Champions League …

          3. Name a team that we defeated last season that was better than either PSG or Dortmund.
            The only reason we made to semi-finals last season is because we were in an easy group where the only real threat was Chelsea.

          4. Leicester won the PL once. It was one of the best squads of all time. They didn’t win anything else because they simply didn’t feel like it. /s

            Villareal made the CL semis two years ago. It was one of the best squads ever put together. They finished 7th in La Liga that season because they just didn’t think they had anything left to prove. /s

            Lyon and RB Leipzig both made the semis in the 2019-20 CL. They returned many times and won many titles in the subsequent years. /s

            ….some of your comments are just asinine.

            “Well that’s not something that could ever be known so I guess we can only speculate.” -Every knock out competition ever.

          5. Like, the same logic applies here: If we’d kept the same exact squad as last season, we could have been in 6th place and also still out of the CL at the groups. “We’ll never know”. So what’s the point? We were in the CL group of death and we JUST missed out on qualifying and we’re well in 3rd place. Where were we in the league last season? Barely made it back to the CL with that world class squad of ours, thanks to Juventus. Oh yeah, and the year we won the Scudetto we also got ejected from the CL at the group stage. Seems like that fantastic squad we shouldn’t have changed could not handle competing on multiple fronts. So perhaps if we hadn’t had 1000 injuries this season we’d have qualified for the CL knockouts and be playing for the scudetto, since it’s so “remarkable” that they have achieved what they’ve achieved so far, per your own words below.

  2. Get ready for Maldini’s Heir to complain about how disruptive the new signings are and for IKWYDLS to spend hours cherry picking a bunch of stats/projections to try and convince people that the new signings aren’t really doing well and the team isn’t stronger than last season.
    You mean we lost Maldini, sold Tonali, and the team is stronger for it? How could that be? Yes, yes it is. Thank you, you evil American owners.

    1. The transfers were disruptive.

      If any organisation replaced half its employees that would be disruptive.

      The fact that Pioli and these players have achieved what they’ve achieved despite the disruption (and injuries) is remarakable.

      For you and others Pioli (and some players) should be sacked for not doing a better job despite the disruption (and injuries).

      1. Bro don’t bother with dude. Can’t really engage people like that. They have their mind made up. But still calling out ppl for what exactly?? They’re just here to troll and provoke responses in very much the same way the site also does. This is literally the same article as the last in one, there’s no real difference except details and was made to do the exact same thing the last one did…generate reactions. Like Krunic articles in the past. It’s how the world is nowadays. Him and it feeds off of rifts in the fan base and capitalizes on it. Kinda tired at this point with ad hominem jabs tbh. Even conceding towards middle ground is a lost cause. And they distort what you’re trying to say. Literally can’t have a nuanced discussion in here ✌️

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