Kalinić’s hisses: An echo of the doubts that surrounded his arrival at Milan

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Nikola Kalinić before Napoli-Milan at Stadio San Paolo on November 18, 2017. (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)
Nikola Kalinić before Napoli-Milan at Stadio San Paolo on November 18, 2017. (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

Fan article by Richard Gyasi (@gyasirichard3).

“Now enough jokes, put the ball where you know, otherwise we’ll send you back there [Fiorentina]”. That, according to Massimiliano Mirabelli, was meant to be a joke when he presented Kalinić as Milan’s last signing of their euphoric mercato in the summer. A jest, which he later had to apologize for to the Fiorentina ownership.

There is no denying the fact that Kalinić’s arrival at Milan had an air of dreariness about it and that colloquial joke from Mirabelli was an articulation of the lack of confidence in the Croatian striker. It’s also important to remark that out of the 11 players that Milan purchased this season, Kalinić was Montella’s call. The others had been identified by the club’s sporting director Mirabelli and CEO Marco Fassone in early spring this year. But it’s vital to investigate the circumstances that led to the striker joining Milan.

Massimiliano Mirabelli, Nikola Kalinić and Marco Fassone at Casa Milan on the 22nd of August, 2017. (@acmilan.com)
Massimiliano Mirabelli, Nikola Kalinić and Marco Fassone at Casa Milan on the 22nd of August, 2017. (@acmilan.com)

Nikola Kalinić was never part of the plan of the new board. Before his introduction as a member of the renewed Milan, names such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Andrea Belotti, Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata had circled in the media during the hazy days of the transfer window. Milan’s ideal striker, according Mirabelli, was Aubameyang. The Gabonese international’s familiarity with Milan as a product of the Youth Sector placed him in good stead, but his achievement as the top goal scorer with 31 goals in the Bundesliga last season was the unique selling point. Milan’s 2nd choice was Torino’s Andrea Belotti, another talent who had a stellar performance with 26 goals in Serie A last term.

Both Dortmund and Torino had no intentions of selling their most prized properties, and the demand of €70m and €100m for Aubameyang and Belotti respectively was a major sticking point. It remains obvious that Milan wanted a proven, consistent goal scorer and Kalinić did not figure in that rank.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during Borussia Dortmund-Tottenham Hotspur at Signal Iduna Park on November 21, 2017. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during Borussia Dortmund-Tottenham Hotspur at Signal Iduna Park on November 21, 2017. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Pursuing these top strikers also meant that the promising Gianluca Lapadula had to take a step down in the pecking order, hence the club’s decision to ship him out on loan to Genoa. Curiously, the now-fired Montella sanctioned the exit of Carlos Bacca, the club’s highest goal scorer in the last two seasons, to play on loan at Villareal. It was obvious from last season that Bacca’s problems were as a result of the burnout he suffered from playing 36 matches for Milan in the previous campaign. But the Colombian still managed to score 13 goals for Montella.

The signing of André Silva was deemed not enough for Milan’s push for a Champions League spot in the league while testing the waters in the Europa League and so Montella signaled for Kalinić, a player who had scored 27 league goals in two seasons for Fiorentina.

Leonardo Bonucci giving encouragement to Nikola Kalinić as the striker was replaced during Milan-Torino at Stadio San Siro on November 26, 2017. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
Leonardo Bonucci giving encouragement to Nikola Kalinić as the striker was replaced during Milan-Torino at Stadio San Siro on November 26, 2017. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

But the move for the Croatian international was unpopular among lots of Rossoneri fans, and one could assign a few reasons behind this dislike. First of all, Kalinić is not an A-list striker. Secondly, he does not strike fear into defenders. Third, he doesn’t work hard around the opponents’ box. But in his defense, some pundits opined that Kalinić is better suited for Montella’s preferred system, which is the 3-5-2 tactical formation.

Montella’s rotation policy to juggle between the Europa League and Serie A preordained that one of Kalinić and André Silva will be given a priority in the league over the European competition. Silva’s impressive displays during the preliminary stage of the Europa League made him the crowd’s favorite between the two, but Montella preferred Kalinić. Serie A experience and 15 league goals last season was enough grounds to start the Croatian ahead of the Portuguese. But after making 11 league appearances for the Rossoneri, Kalinić has scored three goals for the club and fans are not convinced that he deserves to be in the colors of Milan.

In fact, one wouldn’t be wrong to surmise that the treatment of Kalinić on Sunday was only a matter of time. After Patrick Cutrone and Silva scored a brace each against Austria Wien in the Europa League, some fans propagated the idea to bench Kalinić against Torino. But once again Montella decided otherwise, except this time he paired him with Silva. A move, some say, was precipitated by Borini’s absence.

Nikola Kalinić during Milan-Torino at Stadio San Siro on November 26, 2017. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
Nikola Kalinić during Milan-Torino at Stadio San Siro on November 26, 2017. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Kalinić has not only underwhelmed in terms of goal scoring, but his general contribution has been poor. Currently, it’s not hard fans to think that Bacca would have been more prolific with this vastly improved side. It’s difficult not to accept the fact that Lapadula would have performed better, and there is no denying the truth that Cutrone shows more hunger, desire and aggression in the final 3rd.

As it stands, there is a truism in Mirabelli’s comment when Kalinić was being presented. And the only way to make that a joke is for the Croatian international to put on his scoring boots.

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17 COMMENTS

  1. Out of the 11 signings, Kalinic was Montella’s call. No surprises here!

    Bacca would really have been a hell lot better than him with this team. In the last couple of games, the passing and movement has really improved no doubts about that. I just hope that we make it to the qualifications.

  2. Off-Topic: Some of you are funny, say all you want about Montella, he remains a good coach to me, he just got this season completely wrong that’s all. We wanted Milan cheff to replace Allegri when he was with us remember? We said Allegri was that useless and then he went on to consecutively win scudettos with Juve. Montella will do very well in a different team for sure. You guys say Rino had good defensive record in Pisa, you call shipping 36 goals in 40+ matches good defensive record? And scoring only 25?
    Sometimes I feel Milan is cursed. We’ve come to the end of a cycle which Berlu knew about and that’s why he sold up. It doesn’t make sense to me how everyone is good until they get to Milan. Have you guys not noticed this or you just choose to be blind to it cos you don’t want to sound superstitious?
    I bet you, even if Conte comes in next season, after a while, we’ll say Juve arranged with him to come and ruin Milan, mark my words, this may not happen in his first season as it has happened with Montella now. We’ll call for Conte’s head and careless if Milan’s dog replaced him in the bench.
    Something is wrong with this team. Suso has played as ss, cam and rwf in his career but is he performing now. Hakan is now useless, Biglia who Messi spoke highly of is now useless, Kessie, Bonucci, Silver performs for country but in Milan, misses open goal etc.
    Our players can’t always be that bad and you can’t blame it all on the coaches. Take some time to look at the players and coaches we have let go from Milan, how are they performing elsewhere now? Many are doing well even if not all of them.
    Montella messed up this season, agreed. But cut him some slack and let’s support Gattuso and wish him success

    • of course not…

      He played in my club last season… of course I don’t know him..

      He only scores penaltys or easy goals (open goals) he doesn’t know how to shoot from long range, he can’t dribble, he has 0 technique.

      Most goals in Porto last season were penaltys.

      40M for someone who does the same as Cutrone…. you guys were robbed… you have no idea.

      Keep blaming Kalinic… because Gattuso will keep playing him for a reason.

        • 6 of 24 goals where penalties and you claim most of them was. not even half of them was penaltys.

          He have excellent technique and can dribble very well, which is evident from the few matches he have played with us.
          Not only do he score alot but he also assist alot. Works for the team.
          taking the national team in to consideration he have been supurb the last two years for his age.
          and have tremendous potential.

      • Is this montella ? We’ve seen enough about andre silva this season and it’s easy to understand that you are saying bullshhits ! Andre silva is an excellent player ! Tell us who are u, tell us your name to see who is the person who speak like that about an excellent player ! Excellent !

  3. “He only knows how to score easy goals” it might seem easy to you but that’s how Inzaghi scored most of his goals,its called being opportunistic and thats the main attribute of a good striker,does that his first goal against A.wien not look like an inzaghiesque goal to you..the anticipation.”He has 0 technique”yea you dont know him,technique is one of his main attributes or you probably dont know what technique is.

  4. @AC4M I don’t know what you are talking about, Silva is head and shoulders above Kalinic, ewven though both are good.I wish Gatuso all the best, I didn’t want us to sack Montela but it was obvious he suffered from his strong love for Kalinic and squad rotation.

  5. Its ironical that montella got kalinic to milan, while kalinic is the reason why he himself got fired.

    I still can’t get over that one on one kalinic had against Torino but didn’t​ have the confidence to take on the keeper, instead he shot from outside the box. That moment summarized to me that this guy lacks confidence. Smh

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