16. Franck Kessié
AC Milan have been extremely busy this transfer window, having acquired 10 new players so far, and we are still two weeks away from the transfer deadline. Thanks to the ownership change in April, which saw Silvio Berlusconi sell the team to Yonghong Li, the new Chinese owner has made it a priority to heavily invest in star talent to reinvigorate an aging and dilapidated Rossoneri side. They have acquired players all over the pitch, signing Antonio Donnarumma, Mateo Musacchio, Ricardo Rodriguez, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Conti, Franck Kessié, Lucas Biglia, Hakan Calhanoglu, André Silva and Fabio Borini. The youngest of all of their summer signings, Franck Kessié, could very well be the piece of the puzzle that returns Milan to European glory.
The 20-year-old Ivorian midfielder became one of the hottest midfield prospects in Serie A early on in the 2016-17 season, taking many viewers by surprise with his versatile midfield displays. He scored a few goals right from the get-go, and his strong performances for Atalanta did not go unnoticed. Gianpiero Gasperini’s team were the biggest surprise of the Italian league this past season, as numerous of their rising starlets helped them qualify for the UEFA Europa League, finishing 4th in the league.
Other than Kessié, Gasperini oversaw the development of youngsters from Andrea Petagna, Roberto Gagliardini, Leonardo Spinazzola, Andrea Conti (who is now also at Milan), Mattia Caldara, as well as the heroic performances of the older Papu Gomez. It was truly a memorable season for them, as they will now be playing European football. Going back to Kessié, he appeared in 31 games for Atalanta on the season, contributing an impressive 7 goals and 3 assists.
Kessié is a very physical central midfielder who is capable of supporting attacking build-up with strong runs, as he is efficient all over the pitch (he is, by definition, a box-to-box midfielder). He is a good dribbler with strong composure, and at only 20 years old, he has a lot of room to grow. AC Milan decided to invest a decent sum of money on him (8 million euros for a two year loan with an obligation to buy, set at 20 million euros) as Marco Fassone and Massimiliano Mirabelli viewed him as a solid pillar to bolster Milan’s project in the coming years. Many clubs were also after him including Manchester United, Chelsea and Roma, and soon, this fee will look like one of the bargains of the summer.
At Milan, Kessié will surely be a starter next to Lucas Biglia in a revamped midfield. He is a very young player, but he proved his worth last season with Atalanta, and was also called up by the Ivory Coast National team to play in the African Cup of Nations. He seems ready for a new challenge, and Vincenzo Montella’s Milan seems to be a perfect fit for him to keep on developing his general skills. With the right support and motivation, Franck Kessié has all the tools to become one of the best midfielders in not only Serie A, but the entire world.
Milan took on Craiova in the Europa League qualifiers a few weeks ago, and Kessié was one of the Milan players who stood out the most in that game. He seemed to be everywhere as he was very hard to dispossess. Montella praised him, saying that Kessié was one of the most dedicated and hard-working players during the match. If this first official game is an indication of what we are going to see, then Milan fans will surely fall in love with Kessié.
Milan have greatly strengthened their team by adding many quality players, but Franck Kessié stands out above most of them, offering midfield solidity for the next decade for a measly sum. With Milan’s overhaul and with Yaya Touré approaching retirement, Kessié promises to be a crucial figure for both club and country in the next few years.
By: Jean-Luca Mascaro/@CalcioNews89