AC Milan transfers: Will Yunus Musah be the final part of Stefano Pioli’s midfield transformation?

The midfield at AC Milan is going to look very different next season with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tijjani Reijnders having already arrived, and Valencia's Yunus Musah potentially being the final part of Stefano Pioli's new-look middle of the park.

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With eyes on reclaiming the Serie A title next season, AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli is eagerly awaiting news that the deal to bring midfielder Yunus Musah in from Valencia has been agreed. The United States international could be the last piece of the Rossoneri summer midfield transformation.

The 2021/22 Scudetto winners have already secured the services of Ruben Loftus-Cheek from Chelsea and Musah would form part of a three-man midfield, with former AZ Alkmaar man Tijjani Reijnders dictating from the centre following his arrival.

These signings are expected to see Pioli make a permanent move away from his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation to a 4-3-3, with Musah adding the perfect balance to the side, after refining his skills and learning the position under ex-Milan enforcer Gennaro Gattuso, who coached the youngster in La Liga last season until his dismissal at the start of 2023.

Stefano Pioli during a game. (Photo: AC Milan)

Who is Yunus Musah?

Despite being born in New York while his Ghanaian parents were briefly visiting the United States, the 20-year-old spent his formative years in Italy. The family moved to Castelfranco Veneto, northwest of Venice, almost immediately after his birth and remained there for nine years until heading to London.

In the English capital, Musah joined the academy of Premier League side Arsenal and moved swiftly through the age groups, often in a more advanced attacking midfield role, and was quickly called into the England youth set-up. At one point, the midfielder was eligible for the United States, Ghana, Italy and England at international level.

A move to Valencia in 2019 at just 16 years old surprised many, but a solid start with their B side saw him become a permanent fixture in the first team the following year. He declared international allegiance to the United States and has made over 100 appearances in all competitions for Valencia.

However, after being utilised at times as an orthodox winger, it was 33 games under Gattuso and Ruben Baraja last season on the left of a three-man midfield that convinced Milan he was perfect for their tactical evolution.

How does Musah fit the AC Milan tactical plan?

While Valencia struggled last season – finishing 16th in La Liga and two points from relegation – Musah excelled and the sides’ poor form did not stop the young star taking his place in the United States 2022 World Cup squad. He started all four of their games in Qatar and really raised his profile internationally.

Had it not been for the tenacity and tactical awareness of the former Arsenal youth, the Spanish side could be preparing for second-tier football this summer, and similar all-action performances are exactly what Pioli will want to see at the Stadio San Siro next term.

Although playing off the left of midfield, Musah’s heatmap showed an ability to cover the entire width of midfield, covering from others like Loftus-Cheek when moving forward to support the Rossoneri attacks. He also had an impressive average of winning six tackles a game, which will be crucial with Milan wanting as much of the ball as possible to dominate opponents.

Goals are still in short supply, after failing to find the net for the first time in his senior career last term, but Musah is a player who provides the platform for other attacking talents to excel. He did provide two decisive assists that helped save Valencia when the final whistle blew on the 2022/23 campaign.

With a deal between player and club on personal terms resolved, Pioli now just awaits the agreement between the two clubs and his puzzle will be complete, as they approach the first game of the Serie A season at Bologna. Milan have had two bids rejected for Musah as Valencia hold firm for €25m, but there is a belief that a deal will be done soon.

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