M’baye Niang packed his bags and shuttled to Watford in a hurry, following an extended period of form which was inexplicably disappointing. The Frenchman has all the facets of a quality forward, but is frustratingly inconsistent. His departure left a gaping hole on the left of the front three, which was further precipitated by Giacomo Bonaventura’s season-ending injury. Adriano Galliani. AC Milan’s transfer in charge rubbed his hands and got to work, flying to his favourite local destination of late, Genoa.
In came Lucas Ocampos, one of the many touted to be the next Cristiano Ronaldo. Ocampos moved to Europe in 2012, under the persuasion from Claudio Ranieri, the then manager of AS Monaco FC. Ocampos added immediate value to the French side, aiding in its ascent into the top tier of French football. Olympique de Marseille quickly proceeded to sign the youngster to bolster their ambitions. This was a team of talented players, namely Dimitri Payet, Remy Cabella, Michy Batshuayi, Florian Thauvin, Giannelli Imbula, Lucas Silva, etc. Ocampos struggled to make his mark, particularly in front of goal. Genoa came knocking and Ocampos accepted the offer.
Ocampos was deemed inadequate by Marseille, yet they didn’t sell him, but offered him on loan to the Italians. He featured sporadically for Genoa, scoring thrice in 14 appearances. He failed to register an assist, although he can’t be faulted for that, as he created 25 goalscoring chances this season.
Ocampos will surely play second fiddle to Gerard Deulofeu on the left flank at Milan. The Argentine winger will bring much-needed relief to Suso, who can be rested at times with Deulofeu shifting to the right of the front three. Much like his fellow wingmen, Ocampos loves to dribble at the opposition, take on defenders, cut onto his preferred foot and attempt a shot at goal. As a playmaking winger, Ocampos looks for his teammates, passes into space and consequently stretches the defense. However, he is accused of poor decision-making at times.
Milan are thin on the flanks. Suso, Deulofeu and Ocampos are exciting young talents, but beyond them, Vincenzo Montella will need to play others in a makeshift capacity. Fortunately for Milan and Montella, the team must focus on the league as it’s bereft of other cup distractions. With 17 games to go, Milan are 10 points behind third-placed AS Roma. Milan do have a game in hand (against Bologna), which will be played later this week at the Renato Dall’Ara.
Champions League football seems to be a distant dream at the moment and the Europa League is an avoidable hindrance. Nonetheless, Ocampos has six months to prove his mettle and secure a permanent move to the San Siro.