Milan have been active in the transfer window so far officially signing Franck Kessie and Theo Hernández. Another new addition to the team is the Bosnian Rade Krunić who joins after a three-year spell at Empoli.
Krunić is a much-needed signing as the Rossoneri need to strengthen their midfield following the departure of Tiémoué Bakayoko.
The 25-year-old is expected to help with the build-up as the team have struggles creating dangerous attacks and often get stuck in the central areas.
Giving more options
Milan are not only active on the transfer window for players but have a new figure on the managing position too. The ex-Sampdoria manager Marco Giampaolo has arrived at San Siro and already started to implement his vision. It is not clear what are his intentions when it comes to tactics yet, but there definitely will be some changes.
At Empoli, Krunić was used in the central midfield by frequently having the role of an attacking midfielder. It is difficult to predict what formation and starting XI Giampaolo would stick to, but we might have an idea of how he would use the Bosnian.
They have actually worked together in Krunić’s first season at Empoli. Throughout his stay, the player was used to help with forming the attacks and giving more options in the final third. It is expected that Giampaolo would assign him a similar role as Milan need a sip of fresh air in their midfield and using Krunic’s creativity might be a good solution.
Using his pace and strength to help with the build-up and distribute the ball to the more advanced areas has been key at his ex-club, and this is something much needed at Milan too. Although his pass accuracy is 83.8% on average per game, he is more efficient because of his dribbling abilities and flair.
Giampaolo already started testing the 4-3-1-2 formation in the pre-season experimenting with some players’ positions. Suso, who has been used mostly as a winger, might transition into an attacking midfielder as a support behind the strikers, and that is actually where Krunić could be most useful at. He could drop a bit to pick up the ball and then use his physicality and control to pass through the opposition defensive line. Having the role of dragging out the defenders out of position to open spaces for his teammates could also increase Milan’s attacking efficiency.
Not only could he help with creating more opportunities (he has assisted six times last season), but he could also finish the attacks on his own. He has scored five goals in 34 games, with even better indicators from the previous season.
The 25-year-old was one of the four midfielders to be involved in 12 or more goals in the last Serie A season.
Having additional support for a smoother transition and then an additional attacking option in the final third would increase Milan’s attacking force. The Rossoneri, similarly to their rivals Inter, haven’t been among the best goalscorers in Serie A. Milan managed to score 55 goals finishing at the fifth place, stats that the mid-table teams have achieved too.
Krunić could be extremely useful as a substitution, bringing freshness and helping in forming counter-attacks more frequently. The team usually manages to gain back possession quickly but what has been an issue is them being unable to distribute the ball further. That’s where the Bosnian could help using his dribbling abilities to escape the applied press.
If Giampaolo keeps the strategy of using the wings as the most frequent way to attack, Krunić would be perfect for receiving crosses using his off the ball movement and strength to take on his markers. This would allow him either to shoot or to go for a through ball. The midfielder could also be used for over-lapping full-backs.
He is not a selfish type of player and despite his control on the ball and being strong in holding on to it, he also tends to contribute in a short-pass combination in order to help with the build-up.
Although Krunić has a great impact on the opposition’s half, his defensive contribution is not on the highest level. He doesn’t intercept too often managing to do 3.21 interceptions on average per 90 minutes. Having in mind his physicality and work on the ball, the 5.17 recoveries per games doesn’t seem like enough defensive effort. He doesn’t drop deep among the defenders but occasionally helps with applying high press. The result of it is that half of his recoveries are made in the oppositions’ half. At least, his defensive actions on the ball are quite good, as he wins more than half of his defensive duels.
Our analysis of the tactics shows that Rade Krunić seems like a good fit for Giampaolo’s vision. It is hard to predict whether he will get enough playing time as it is uncertain how the squad will look like at the end of the summer. But having a versatile player like him with good skills on the ball and a strong attacking flair seems like a great deal for Milan.
It would be hard to replace Paquetá, Bonaventura or Calhanoglu but he will surely dive into any opportunity that arises.
If you love tactical analysis, then you’ll love the digital magazines from totalfootballanalysis.com – a guaranteed 100+ pages of pure tactical analysis covering topics from the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga and many, many more. Buy your copy of the July issue for just ₤4.99 here, or even better sign up for a ₤50 annual membership (12 monthly issues plus the annual review) right here.