Ante Rebic the last piece of AC Milan's puzzle
Background image: Nobbiwan, CC BY 2.0
Life isn't being kind to Marco Giampaolo. Unlike compatriot Antonio Conte at Inter, the AC Milan manager is struggling to incorporate a dominative aura. Quite the contrary, the Rossoneri are a stuttering unit while their rivals function like a well-oiled machine.
Thankfully for Giampaolo, the transfer window boosted his prospects. Ante Rebic was roped in on a two-year loan deal, with Andre Silva heading the other way to Eintracht Frankfurt. The Italian coach required an enforcer to get things moving. He’s signed an apt hustler to fire up his players.
Rebic might’ve been overshadowed by the Luka Jovic-Sebastien Haller combo last season, but he was Adi Hutter’s centre-piece in ensuring greater efficiency. Operating behind the striking duo, not afraid to bully, the Croatia international provided a link in Frankfurt's attack.
At AC Milan, Rebic will likely operate in a similar role through a different system. He should flank Suso as an inside forward or a playmaker, creating more room for striker Krzysztof Piatek. The Polish hitman's struggling to regain his scoring touch after netting 22 goals last campaign.
Rebic can help Piatek polish off his rustiness. He's a feisty character, doing whatever necessary to get his side forward. The 25-year-old isn't scared of taking chances with ambitious passes or showing aggression to pile on the pressure. Indeed, his relentless pursuit to win possession make him prone to committing fouls.
Since Gennaro Gattuso left in May, the Rossoneri have missed that influential, gritty figure to rekindle team spirit. Knowing how involved Rebic likes to be, he’ll ensure his side doesn’t lose focus against crowded backlines. The Croat's ability to operate as both an attacking midfielder and a striker equally well will improve the efficiency of Milan’s forward rhythm.
Although not the quickest, Rebic makes up for it with physical attributes as well as tricky feet. He can retain possession equally as he can whizz past players. His unique style should reflect on new teammates, compelling them to perform better. His clever passes into space will prove AC Milan's cutting edge in exposing defences.
Despite his versatility, Rebic's position under Giampaolo remains a mystery. The gaffer's still working things out. If he persists with a 4-3-3 formation, his new signing will probably play in a left-sided attacking midfield role. Be warned, though, isolating him to the flank will prove disastrous.
Rebic thrives centrally, having two strikers ahead and the goal in sight. Piatek and Rafael Leao can form a devastating partnership with him diverting opponents' attention by getting into promising positions to open up space.
Although decent from long-range, Rebic isn't the most consistent goal-scorer. He contributed toward more than ten league goals for the first time last season, scoring nine himself. He's a link-up man rather than a finisher.
With Rebic's proactiveness in the final third, Milan's midfielders can flourish. He'll aid this new-look side to gel as a definitive unit. The diligent Hakan Calhanoglu will receive help to dominate the midfield battle. Lucas Paqueta can dictate the tempo from a deeper role. That will allow Franck Kessie to use his industrious nature more effectively. Suso, the Rossoneri's stand out creator, will get more room to cut in and showcase his majestic touch as well as take shots.
Giampaolo’s had previous success at unearthing an attacker's ultimate potential. Who can forget Fabio Quagliarella’s rise? With no European commitments this campaign, the AC Milan coach hopes Rebic forms a menacing partnership with Piatek, Suso and Co. to inspire a top-four finish.