As has been well documented for some time now, AC Milan need to sign at least one striker – probably multiple – before the start of next season for a variety of different reasons.
First of all there is the situation linked to Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman continues to score decisive goals in the biggest games, but he is now 37 years of age and his contact actually runs out at the end of the season.
All signs point towards a renewal for another season, yet even then he will turn 38 during the 2024-25 campaign meaning that he can no longer be expected to start every match and must manage his workload.
The time has come to start looking at who to pass the baton to, and the current internal solutions do not provide enough guarantees. Luka Jovic was signed on a free but he is yet to score a goal and his deal will run out next June unless extended, while the currently-injured Noah Okafor is seen more as Rafael Leao’s deputy and is not a natural lone striker.
Then there are players such as Lorenzo Colombo – out on loan at Monza – and Francesco Camarda who will be spoken about a lot in the months and years to come but do not currently seem ready to snap up that starting No.9 position.
Who are Geoffrey Moncada and Antonio D’Ottavio looking at? We’ve all read the names from Jonathan David to Akor Adams, Santiago Gimenez to Serhou Guirassy, yet the solution could come from Serie A and from a club Milan have done business with before.
The profile Milan like
As our correspondent Lorenzo Lepore has learned through sources close to the situation, Milan are big admirers of Bologna striker Joshua Zirkzee. The Dutchman has adapted well to life in Serie A since his arrival, and he has caught the eye.
Bologna are having a surprisingly good season under head coach Thiago Motta – another profile linked with having a future at Milan – as they sit sixth in the league and with the European places now a concrete target.
Part of the reason for that is Zirkzee’s performances, given that he has five goals in 13 Serie A goals and two assists, as well as a goal in the Coppa Italia as well. He is therefore ahead of Lewis Ferguson with the most goal contributions in the entire squad.
On the face of things, Zirkzee would be a perfect fit for the project. He is young at 22 years of age, has Serie A experience, has the potential to grow and would have a salary that falls within Milan’s parameters.
The information we have is that Milan are scouting him closely in view of the coming months as they attempt to pick the right profile for the future, and he certainly ticks plenty of boxes given he plays as a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 formation.
A possible intricacy
There is another layer of interest to this story as well, we have learned. Often when there are deals done between clubs within Serie A there is a talk of potential counterparts, and this is no different.
The source revealed that Bologna are monitoring Milan’s young striker Marco Nasti, who is currently out on loan at Bari in Serie B where he has scored three goals in 352 minutes of action.
Regarded as a very talented striker who scored regularly for the Primavera, the 20-year-old came through Milan’s youth academy and was sent out to Cosenza last season before making the jump to a more ambitious club for a loan this season.
Whether Nasti could therefore be included as a makeweight in the deal remains to be seen, but it goes without saying that it would be a player-plus-cash deal given the differing valuations.
Of course Milan will be having their own internal reflections on Nasti’s development and the strategy for the future, however at present he does seem to be behind the likes of Colombo and even Camarda perhaps.
Other names attached
Milan and Bologna have actually done business in the last few months, so relations between the clubs are optimal and it is likely that there are constant chats between the directors.
Alexis Saelemaekers made the move to the Rossoblu from the Rossoneri over the summer having fallen out of favour under Stefano Pioli. His main objective was to get back into the Belgium national team, and now he wants to score the first goal with his new club.
Bologna closed the Saelemaekers operation with Milan on the basis of a loan of €500k loan and with an option to buy set at €11m. Their sporting director Sartori is reportedly convinced that he can renegotiate the agreement again at the end of the season, as per other reports.
Milan have been credited with an interest in Scotland international Lewis Ferguson too, while Riccardo Calafiori has been linked in the past few weeks having joined Bologna in the summer. He has been converted from a left-back at Basel into a centre-back, and has impressed a lot.
For now, what we know for certain is that Milan are looking very closely at Zirkzee and that Nasti is in turn being monitored by Bologna. The phone line between Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna might get hot again in the coming months.