AC Milan pursued Samuel Chukwueze for weeks and they finally managed to break down Villarreal’s resistance, signing him earlier in the week on a five-year deal.
Fabrizio Romano among other sources has reported that Chukwueze arrived for a fee of around €20m plus €8m in bonuses which could represent a bargain, but was influenced by his contract situation.
The 24-year-old amassed 13 goals and 11 assists in all competitions last season for the Yellow Submarine, and on the face of things he and Rafael Leao should form a dangerous two-flanked attack.
What can Milan fans expect from the Nigeria international? We spoke to Jamie Kemble who is a writer for Villarreal’s SB Nation site among other outlets to get some insight.
What is your reaction to Chukwueze leaving for €20m plus bonuses? Is it a fair price?
“Probably not. I mean, it’s not overly cheap if all of those bonuses are paid, but when you consider Samu Castillejo went for more than 30 million, it does feel very cheap.
“Had a Premier League club come in for Chukwueze, or if he had been under a longer contract, this could well have been a 40 million or more deal. AC Milan have been able to take advantage of Villarreal’s contract error to get themselves a bargain.”
“Chukwueze has been linked with a move to the Premier League and even Real Madrid in the past but reports early on made it clear he wanted Milan, why do you think he chose us?
“I’m not sure there was enough interest elsewhere, in truth. This comes down to timing. There has been serious interest in the past, but Villarreal had him under a good contract.
“This was the telling summer when he had the chance to move, with only a year remaining on his contract, and when it came down to it, AC Milan were the only serious suitor.
“Still, he will have seen it as a chance to compete for titles, and it’s a good move. If Real Madrid were actually at the table, I think that would have been his first choice move, which is no disrespect to Milan.
“Real Madrid are the biggest club in the world, and Samu could have stayed in Spain where he has been happy for a long time.”
What are Chukwueze’s best qualities and skills?
“Pace, agility and ball control. Samu is one of the quickest players in the game, both on and off the ball. He is ridiculously skilful on the ball, able to turn rivals inside out, and the ball seems to stick to his foot.
“He has had those abilities from a young age, and they have only improved. His finishing has also improved, and particularly in the last year.
“He has been accused of lacking the final touch in earlier in his career, much like Vinicius Jr, but he has been able to slow the game down a little and provide a more decisive final finish or cross in the last year or so, in particular.
“Samu is and out-and-out attacker, and given free reign to do that, he will cause all sorts of damage, especially if you can keep his confidence high.”
What kind of an impact could his arrival have on Rafael Leao, given the similarities in their playing style and the fact Milan now have a two-flanked attack?
“That’s a dangerous-looking attack. I think they do differ a little. Leao is more powerful on the ball, but Samu will find his way through smaller gaps and he’ll get on the end of through balls or balls over the top quicker.
“You guys will know Leao better than me, but as for Samu, and having seen Leao in action, that’s a really dangerous front-line.”
Do you think he will find it easy to settle in to Serie A or is patience needed?
“That’s an interesting question, and one that is difficult to answer. There is always an adaption process, but it’s fair to say going from La Liga to Serie A or vice versa is a much easier adaption process than to the Premier League, for example.
“Much will depend on keeping Samu-s confidence high and giving him the licence to make mistakes without getting on his back. That’s true of almost all wingers, and especially skillful ones.
“He adapted to a new culture in Spain very well and never showed a willingness to leave or give up despite arriving as a youngster from Africa. That’s a good qualiy that suggests he should adapt well to life in Italy.”