The AC Milan management are currently tasked with fine-tuning the squad and one of the roles they are looking at is the left-back position.
According to the latest from Gianluca Di Marzio, it seems as though Fode Ballo-Touré is going to Bologna or OGC Nice so a replacement for the Senegal international is needed.
The journalist suggested two targets from Juventus with the first being Luca Pellegrini, who spent last season on loan at Lazio, and the other being Andrea Cambiaso who has just returned after a season at Bologna.
It’s set in stone that Theo Hernandez will be the starting left-back for next season given he is among the elite players in that position, but to compete across three competitions it will be necessary to rotate with quality depth.
Fabiano Parisi was one of the favourites given his similarities to Theo in terms of their approach to the game, but he has joined Fiorentina. Who else could be on the list? We look through some options.
Tomasso Augello – Sampdoria
Transfermarkrt value: €2m
Coming from the Spezia academy, Augello was signed in order to give competition to Nicolas Murru for the then-coach Eusebio Di Francesco.
Used to playing in a back four and a back three, Augello has never made his love for Milan secret. At 28 years of age and after being relegated with Sampdoria, agreeing Personal terms wouldn’t be difficult for Augello.
Sampdoria would want to lighten their wage bill, however the new coach Andrea Pirlo wouldn’t want to let him go easily. It is worth nothing that he would also add to the homegrown quota for the UEFA squad lists.
Luca Pellegrini – Juventus
Transfermarkrt value: €7m
As mentioned above, Pellegrini has actually been linked with Milan recently. He came through the Roma academy and exploded on loan at Cagliari where he had six assists, which earned him a move to Juventus.
Injuries killed his progress and after several failed loan moves – including a latest one to Lazio – the 24-year-old is at risk of becoming a bit of a journeyman unless he picks his next club correctly.
The chance to join Milan and play in the Champions League could be the right challenge to revive his career but there is a big question mark regarding his fitness record and if he can cope with Pioli’s intense style.
Juve may open up for a loan deal, while Pellegrini still has a long journey ahead and he would once again qualify for the homegrown list.
Antonino Gallo – Lecce
Transfermarkrt value: €2.5m
Gallo’s performance against Milan was impressive. He did have Junior Messias to deal with on his flank rather than Junior Messias, but he was solid and didn’t give away much.
When Lecce had to attack he was the starting point of many of them. The Giallorossi may ask a fee in the range of €5-10m to sell, and at 23 years of age it remains to be seen if the Italian would like to be a deputy. He is another player that would help the homegrown list.
Pasquale Mazzocchi – Salernitana
Transfermarkrt value: €4.8m
Mazzocchi is more of a wing-back who only joined Salernitana in the early part of last year. He is mostly used to playing higher up but he can play on both the right and left flanks, which is a useful tool to have as we saw with Diogo Dalot.
At 27 years of age and at his peak, Mazzocchi may be tempted to move to Milan in attempts to win silverware in his career. He would cost somewhere between €3-8m and would be a homegrown player, while the Rossoneri management could exploit an axis with the Granata.
Junior Firpo – Leeds United
Transfermarkrt value: €10m
Firpo was linked to Milan when Barcelona were looking to offload him. However, he chose Leeds presumably because he did not want to be a deputy to Theo Hernandez and was keen on a starting spot.
With Leeds relegated to the Championship it might be worth another attempt for the left-back because a step up from the second division to the Champions League is something most players wouldn’t reject.
Leeds might hold out for the €15m fee they paid to sign him or at least most of that amount, while Firpo is not homegrown but is not a non-EU player either given his Spanish passport.
6. Noussair Mazraoui – Bayern Munich
Transfermarkrt value: €20m
An Ajax academy product, Mazraoui was snatched on a free transfer by Bayern Munich because of his ability to play anywhere in defence.
He is excellent at the World Cup playing left-back when Achraf Hakimi was on the other flank for Morocco. Mazraoui possess speed and intelligence and very good ball control.
However with much less playing time at Bayern, rumours have that he might want to leave Bayern. The German club would probably want a sizeable fee for him and it seems difficult to imagine the Rossoneri paying up for a back-up, though a loan may be explored.
As mentioned, Mazraoui represents Morocco on the international stage but has Dutch passport making him an EU player.
Rather than just comparing profiles, it is also important to take a look at the data to see who might provide the most seamless transition in terms of having similar numbers to Theo.
For Defensive Actions, Tackles + Interception + Shots Blocked and Clearances (all per 90 minutes) are measured.
For Attacking Actions, Progressive Carries (ball dribbled from defensive half to attacking half) and Crosses into the penalty area per 90 minutes are considered.
Luca Pellegrini’s 2019-20 season has been used as he hasn’t played much in other campaigns, and Tommaso Augello’s 2021-22 season has been used.
Theo Hernandez’s defensive actions suffered a lot last season but he still had a good number. He still tops the list for attacking actions, which is no surprise given it is his natural instinct.
Firpo is definetly one of the best defensive-minded full-back of the lot and likes to protect more rather than bomb forwards and join the attack.
Mazraoui may well be the best of the bunch because he is offensively and defensively very good, but as mentioned would come at a cost.
Gallo playing for Lecce has very good defensive stats but does not have good attacking numbers, perhaps something that is more down to their approach.
Augello has good defensive stats while his attacking stats aren’t on a par with Theo. What he excels at however is crossing balls into the penalty box.
Pellegrini in his best season had both defensive actions while bringing attacking threat upfront, with six assists registered.
Finally Mazzocchi of Salernitana. He comes closest to Theo Hernandez in terms of attacking and defensive output. Playing at wing-back may amplify his offensive abilities and stats.
This is of course just a list of potential candidates ranging from realistic to optimistic, and the management will no doubt be sifting through a pile of 10x as many profiles.
However, the numbers show that Augello would be the most cost effective in terms of what he offers in performances. He had a poor 2022-23 season but it shouldn’t erase what he did the year prior in a less chaotic environment.
The key thing is that Geoffrey Moncada and Giorgio Furlani sort a player who is an upgrade on Ballo-Toure; a profile that offers something at both ends, is happy to be a deputy, falls within budget and is consistent.