AC Milan’s rebuild: How will Pioli reshape the Rossoneri after their summer signings?

After an underwhelming attempt at defending their Serie A title last season, big changes are coming to AC Milan this summer. Their signings so far suggest that Stefano Pioli will make some big changes to how they line up next season.

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After the €70 million sale of Sandro Tonali kickstarted AC Milan’s transfer business this summer, the arrivals coming in through the gates of the Stadio San Siro have sparked debate over how Stefano Pioli’s team will line up next season, as they look to wrestle the Serie A title back from Napoli.

The 57-year-old has often favoured a 4-2-3-1 while in charge of the Rossoneri, but flirted with 3-4-3 for a brief period in 2022/23 when its defensive resilience allowed them to keep in touch with Champions League qualification-chasing rivals. Now, the summer signings of Christian Pulisic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Luka Romero suggest another evolution.

Midfield is likely to be where the biggest change is for Milan next season, with Dutchman Tijjani Reijnders on his way to join the Rossoneri engine room from AZ Alkmaar in his homeland and hoping to bring a versatility that can help Pioli reshape his side.

Christian Pulisic signs for AC Milan. [@acmilan]

Pioli suggests double pivot is history

Although Pulisic is the standout name to join the Rossoneri this summer, fellow American international Yunus Musah, could be just as important to the Milanese giants restructure and Calciomercato report that the Valencia midfielder has agreed personal terms on a €13m deal, and Pioli hinted at a new-look Milan as a result.

[Sandro] Tonali’s departure and [Ismael] Bennacer’s injury will lead to changes,” admitted Pioli at a summer press conference. “It was clear that the midfield needed to be strengthened. I have great respect for my players, but in the same way, I think it’s time to make some changes.

“There may also be tactical tweaks to make us better. A lot will also depend on the characteristics of the players that come in, But, with intelligent and quality players, new things will be possible.”

How could AC Milan line up next season?

Rafael Leao celebrates a goal. (@acmilan)

With Pulisic and Rafael Leao looking certain for starting places on either side of a central striker, most likely the ageing Olivier Giroud for another year, a switch to 4-3-3 seems almost inevitable, as the deep-lying playmaking abilities of previous years are unavailable through the loss of Tonali and injury to Bennacer.

The Algeria international is likely to be absent from the Rossoneri squad until January 2024, which leaves Reijnders as the man to dictate the play and provide some physicality, as others like Loftus-Cheek and Musah provide some attacking intensity.

Will Charles De Ketelaere leave AC Milan?

AC Milan’s Charles De Ketelaere in action against Fiorentina. [@Getty]

At just 22 years old, Charles De Ketelaere might have been given another season in Milan to finally display the abilities that prompted the club to hand over €35m to Club Brugge 12 months ago, but the Belgian lacks the qualities to fill midfield or attacking roles in a 4-3-3.

There have been approaches from Premier League side Aston Villa and PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands, but neither club appear willing to part with the €30m asking price the Rossoneri are insisting upon, but another year on the fringes at San Siro will do little for club or player.

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