Last week, AC Milan signed Andre Silva for €38 million on a five-year deal. The 21-year-old arrived from Porto with a beaming smile and bags of potential. The hurriedness of the transfer caught the fans off-guard, as Silva wasn’t among the three primary names being linked to the club in the striker position. However, the statement of intent from Marco Fassone and Massimo Mirabelli had the tifosi applauding.
Andre Silva isn’t a traditional number nine. Nicknamed ‘Deco’ by the boys on the playground during his initial years, Silva started by playing as a midfielder. He was gradually pushed into attack, out on the right wing and subsequently as a centre-forward. By virtue of playing deeper in his earlier days, Silva is highly mobile and likes to drop deep and get involved in the play. His ability to pick a pass and find players in attack is impressive, which has significantly contributed towards him racking up assists last season. He hassles defenders, is particularly good with the press and is adept on the wing.
However, Silva is relatively raw as a finisher. His goal-scoring statistics for Porto are good, but aren’t formidable. Contrarily, Silva has been prolific for Portugal. But, his goals have come against Andorra, Faroe Islands, Hungary, Cyprus and Latvia. When taken into context, his form isn’t quite as remarkable as it seemed.
Silva is an excellent acquisition for the future. But, Milan need to strengthen their attack as they make a charge for Champions League qualification in 2017/18. Serie A boasts of strikers of phenomenal caliber, namely Edin Dzeko, Gonzalo Higuain & Mauro Icardi. The goals scored by these players are instrumental in the points secured by their teams in the league. Therefore, it is essential that Milan sign a proven goal –scorer.
Of the names suggested in the media over the last several weeks, Alvaro Morata looks destined to join Jose Mourinho at Manchester United. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has the Parisians vying for him, which has naturally escalated his price tag. Moreover, Aubameyang is unlikely to be successful in a team that plays possession football. He thrives on space behind defenders and likes to step on the gas against a high-line. He will feel thwarted in a tactical league that specializes in constricting space.
Andrea Belotti had a break-through season with Torino, even if he tapered off towards the end of the campaign. Yet, he fits the bill. He is young, Italian, has proven Serie A experience and is a natural goal-scorer. The complications arise over the asking price, which the Torino president has set between €80 million – €100 million. Ludicrous, as one might think.
Fassone and Mirabelli have earmarked Nikola Kalinic as the other striker. The Croatian centre-forward is a decent player, having scored 27 goals over two seasons with Fiorentina. He provides a physical presence in the box and holds the ball admirably; attributes missing in Carlos Bacca’s profile. The Colombian though has more goals to his credit in the league over the last two seasons.
Which brings us to the point; do Milan need to sign another striker after all? Carlos Bacca was a reputed forward in Spain with creative players assisting him on a regular basis. At Milan, Bacca attempted to do far more than merely poach, leading to a drastic drop in performance in his second season. With quality reinforcements and creativity being injected into the side over the summer, Bacca might just be what Milan needs in the box this campaign.
Bacca has three years left on his contract and will get adequate game time, given Milan’s involvement in the Europa League this term. Improved performances from the former Sevilla man might lead to Silva spending a large part of his first season at Milan on the bench, or maybe, on the wings. The management has certain positions to address, which are far more pressing compared to the player leading the line. Perhaps, the answer they are looking for lies within the walls of Milanello.