Former AC Milan defender Mauro Tassotti has given his thoughts on a range of things, including the rumoured formation change and the future of several players.
The Rossoneri are entering a new season with a lot of uncertainty surrounding how they will follow up the 2020-21 campaign, during which Stefano Pioli’s side managed to secure a second-placed finish and a long awaited return to the Champions League.
Tassotti gave a long interview to the microphones of La Gazzetta dello Sport and began by commenting on the rumours suggesting Pioli is considering a switch to a 4-4-2 formation, one that could see Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Olivier Giroud play together.
“I think it’s a game system that can have good potential. The first requirement is to let Ibra and Giroud play together. They are two important players and keeping one out is not easy. Of course, Milan will often play three times a week, they are no longer very young and there will also be a need to alternate them, but this is the time to experiment,” he said (via PianetaMilan).
“Pioli is very good. If you want them to play together, 4-4-2 is the best system. One could think of starting from a three-man defence, but it would become a bit too radical a change. Historically Milan has always played with a four-man defence and with a 4-4-2 eight players can be enough to defend, so not to ask Ibra and Giroud for excessive overwork.
“We need to understand Leao’s tactical evolution. Which path he will take. Right now it is not clear whether he is more external or more attacking, because he is neither. He is a very strong player, but he is still maturing. Another player to pay close attention to is Diaz, who finished in an excellent way last season. There is the need to let him play too and it is clear that in the 4-4-2 he would struggle more.
“In the end, however, I believe that between 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1 there is no all this big difference. The 4-2-3-1 is perhaps more suitable for defending. With the 4-4-2 for example it is more difficult to face opponents who play with a low block. With the Jorginho of the situation, for understand us.”
On Leao playing on the left wing: “If you really want to play with 4-4-2 you can’t have two wingers with the same characteristics. You need different profiles, one of which with a greater offensive attitude. Saelemaekers for example knows how to do everything well but is not a striker. The winger is a role cut especially for him, but on the opposite lane it is right to think of a more offensive player.”
On Ibrahimovic and Giroud together on the pitch: “I would say yes. If they are well they can certainly play together. Giroud for Milan is a good signing, he is someone who knows how to play football and score. Maybe he doesn’t create a goal like Ibra, he needs the team. But if the team supports him, he has a lot of ease in finding the goal. The area is his comfort zone.”
On the alternative to Ibra: “Both Rebic and Leao can make the second striker without problems and effectively.”
On if it is right to trust Leao: “From what he showed on the field it is right to insist, after which I do not know him enough to judge him as an aptitude for work. But, in terms of value, given his age and quality, he must be expected. Milan made the correct choice.”
On the summer window: “They are following the path of the last few seasons, that is young players but able to fit in immediately. With some leaders useful for the whole group. I must say that in the club they have very clear ideas. They have made radical choices in philosophy and management that I liked.
“Last year they played very well for a long time and I expect them to still play that kind of football. Milan have strong players. Just look at the defense: Kjaer was a protagonist at the European Championships, Calabria in my opinion will go to the national team very soon because he deserves it, Hernandez is establishing himself in a strong and clear way. I am very curious to see this team at work in the Champions League.”
On Romagnoli: “In fact it is not an easy situation for him, especially on a psychological level. But when you are in a great team it is like that. Last year Kjaer and Tomori proved to be more reliable and Pioli let them play. you are the captain, you can still end up on the bench, knowing however that there will be many rotations, especially with the Champions League. In any case, the internal competition makes the whole team grow.”
On who will win the Scudetto: “On paper, Inter and Juve are more ready, but I would stop at these two. And in any case the values are not so superior compared to Milan. As for the others, I don’t see the Rossoneri behind anyone, while last summer Milan could also have been placed behind Napoli and the Roman teams.”
One man who is entering the season with an expiring contract as well as the likes of Franck Kessie and Romagnoli is head coach Stefano Pioli, but Tassotti does not believe he is being made to prove he deserves an extension.
“A particular situation, let’s say. But for a coach the pride and satisfaction of being in a club like Milan can also be valid as the condition of starting an expiring contract. I don’t think the club wants to put him to the test. They know how he works, they’ve had over a year to appreciate him. Pioli is capable, well educated, he plays the role in an excellent way. Then, of course, the renewal would be right for everything he does. he did. The field speaks for him.”