Following on from the ‘forwards’ instalment of this series, I feel it is time to address some of the midfield rumours that have been circulating regarding new signings.
The midfield this season has been very chop and change, with players playing across the midfield three in different combinations. The general consensus among the Rossoneri supporters is that Bonaventura does not work in a midfield three, and also that players such as Honda are more suited to a central attacking midfield role.
Meanwhile, we have the potential departure of Nigel de Jong to think about. Developments in the last days suggest he now may be open to signing a new contract, something that could indicate his confidence in the project being built, or perhaps he has heard Manchester United will not be coming in to swoop him. Either way, it would be naive to assume he will be a Milan player next season until he puts pen to paper.
So, with all that being said, here are five targets ranging from the realistic to the dream, but all should be subject to interest in the upcoming Mercato. For this, I will be looking at how the various players would slot in to the systems of Carlo Ancelotti (4-3-3) and Unai Emery (4-2-3-1), both of whom are heavily linked with the Milan job at the time of writing.
1) Andrea Bertolacci
A possible deal for Bertolacci, currently co-owned by Roma and Genoa, keeps fluctuating between likely and unlikely. It appears every time Milan step up interest, Roma do too, threatening to buy out the remaining half of his contract.
In 86 games for Genoa since 2012 he has bagged 12 goals, playing mostly in an attacking midfield role. His versatility is a nice asset, as he can play anywhere between a deeper central midfield role and a shadow striker, and his eye for goal makes Andrea a hot property.
With superb striking technique, a tidy first touch and an ability to spearhead attacking movements, he could be exactly the sort of player Milan need to be the catalyst for the midfield.
Under a Carlo Ancelotti system, he would likely play as the most forward out of a midfield three due to his danger in the centre of the park. He would perhaps be more suited to Unai Emery’s 4-2-3-1 system, however, as he could slot in just behind the striker which reduces his defensive workload.
Bertolacci would be a nice player to acquire, but it will prove difficult as Roma will seek to make negotiations awkward.
2) Daniele Baselli
Another talented young player is Baselli of Atalanta. At just 23 years old he has already attracted interest from plenty of teams, and if rumours are true then Milan could be planning a bid for him.
A confident player, he has drawn comparisons to Pirlo and Montolivo, two players he claims he tries to be like when playing his game. With an eye to push up the field and carve out attacks, he is a similarly dangerous player in open play with lots of talent from dead ball situations.
Baselli can play across a midfield three, but recently has been playing on the left side of a trio, and with players such as Cigriani and Migliaccio tucked in behind, it has provided him with the freedom to push up field and influence play.
A player such as Baselli is probably more suited to the Ancelotti system on the left of a midfield three, with two midfielders to his right that will provide sufficient defensive cover. On the other hand, in a 4-2-3-1 it is difficult to imagine him adopting a role as part of a defensive midfield duo because of his attacking work rate, but he probably doesn’t have the production to play in the attacking midfield role.
Atalanta will be well aware they have a future star on their hands, and the fee that they demand will most likely reflect this. However, with the right coaching, Daniele could become an anchor of the midfield for years to come.
3) Roberto Soriano
Another superb young player that Milan have been linked with, although not seriously, is Sampdoria man Soriano.
Anyone who follows the Serie A knows there is a wealth of good reasons Milan should be targeting players such as this, and the Italy international will have lots of interest this mercato for sure.
Soriano has pretty much the whole package: a great eye for a pass, good work rate, not frightened to get stuck in, great shooting and dribbling technique, and versatility. With four goals this season in Serie A and five goals last year, he will contribute every now and again with offensive production including assists.
His all-round skill set makes him perfectly suited to play in a midfield three in a 4-3-3, either on the right side or in the middle with sufficient cover. In a 4-2-3-1, he could occupy the right sided defensive midfield role if his defensive ability improves.
At just 23 years old, the Darmstadt-born man has a great future and Sampdoria will be very reluctant to let him go, but it is definitely worth an enquiry as he would be a marvellous additions.
4) Mario Suárez
A few days ago, Mario would not have even been on this list, yet reports are emerging that Galliani has made Suárez a target for the mercato, meeting his agent to talk about a deal.
Despite the fact you do not hear his name mentioned much, Mario Suárez is actually a good defensive midfielder, and having been at Atletico Madrid since 2010 it is understandable he may want a change of scenery. Part of the Europa League, La Liga, Supercopa and Copa del Rey winning sides, as well as the Champions League runners up, Suárez is struggling for consistent game time, making just 19 appearances this year.
If Simone has indeed deemed him surplus to requirements, Galliani may be swooping for a de Jong replacement at a cut price. Nevertheless, his tackling ability and experience playing at the highest levels would be a great use to Milan, but I know most would rather have NDJ.
There may be a situation where De Jong and Suárez could occupy the deeper roles in a 4-2-3-1, which would allow a very attacking number 10. In a 4-3-3, you would imagine he would be slightly deeper and in the middle, which would be perfect for players like Soriano and Baselli to occupy the left and right.
An underrated player, Mario Suárez could be a great addition at the right price, and the indications are that he is available so it will be interesting to see how this develops.
5) Marco Verratti
Ranging from the realistic to the dream, we finish with the dream in one of the best and most promising midfielders in world football.
At just 22 years of age, he has established himself as one of the most consistent producers for Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1, being named as a team of the year candidate. Juventus, Arsenal and Bayern Munich have all expressed serious interest, and consequently you feel that a signing of this magnitude depends on what coach we recruit.
PSG will not let their man go cheaply, and for good reason, as there is no end to the talent that Verratti possesses. Amazing vision allows him to dictate play and anticipate key phases of the game, while his ability to pick a pass and intercept moves allows him to sit in the deep-lying playmaker role. Composed on the ball, the majority of his passes are forward, indicating how Marco likes to move the game forward and dictate the tempo.
This really would be a major coup, and really it is only worth even discussing if Carlo Ancelotti is in charge of Milan next season. In the 4-3-3 he could play anywhere, but would likely be in the middle sat slightly deeper, and he would completely transform the midfield for the Rossoneri.
For a player of his quality, you wouldn’t get much change from €40million, however if there is over €100million to spend like speculation suggests, I would make Marco a primary target.
So, those are the five players that I think Milan should and probably are taking a look at. Special mentions also go to Jose Mauri, who apparently has almost joined already, and players like Kondogbia and Isco, who may feature in a future issue.
What are your thoughts? Who should be the main priority, and is adding to the midfield important in the upcoming market?