AC Milan’s Champions League hopes took their first of two fatal blows when they were beaten by fierce rivals Inter 2-0 in the first leg at San Siro, thanks to goals from Edin Dzeko and Hakan Calhanoglu.
However, Stefano Pioli’s side suffered an additional blow during that game when Ismael Bennacer was forced off just 17 minutes into the first leg, with the Algerian set to be out for around six months through a knee injury which required surgery.
The midfielder has been vital in Milan’s engine room this season, making 40 appearances and clocking up just shy of 3,000 minutes. Pioli was forced to turn to other solutions for the final few games of the season to compensate for Bennacer being side-lined.
AC Milan’s worrisome midfield options
With Bennacer now out for around six months, his midfield counterpart Sandro Tonali is in need of suitable partners in midfield so the Rossoneri can make a strong start to next season.
According to Calciomercato, the first option would be to re-shape Milan’s midfield through the options already at the club. Tommaso Pobega would need to enhance his forward-thinking characteristics to push up the field and take up a more advanced position.
Alternatively, should Pioli not fancy deploying Pobega, he can use the versatility of Rade Krunic who has shown that he can play in a deeper role in the midfield.
The shifting of pieces in midfield will send a ripple effect throughout Milan’s final third set-up. Spaniard Brahim Diaz appears to be on his way back to Real Madrid which means there is more focus on Charles De Ketelaere. Should he make the no.10 role his own, it would leave both Alexis Saelemaekers and Junior Messias competing for the right wing and Rafael Leao would be on the left.
AC Milan’s summer transfer plans
Bennacer’s injury is one that will keep him out across the start of next season, meaning the Milan decision-makers will look at dipping into the transfer market, with the hope of purchasing one or two midfielders.
Following the sudden departure of technical director Paolo Maldini and sporting director Frederic Massara, there is suddenly a lot of mystery around what Milan’s transfer strategy will be.
One potential summer signing to help fill the Bennacer void is Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek, with the Italian side looking to take advantage of Chelsea’s wage bill which has sky-rocketed throughout the 2022/23 campaign.
Whilst he is a more offensive midfielder than Bennacer, Milan are also said to be very close to signing Daichi Kamada on a free transfer from Eintracht Frankfurt.