After another impressive outing in spite of defeat for Milan, striker André Silva’s proven that he is deserving of a full-time, starting role and ready to erupt in Italy.
For weeks, supporters stood on their social media soap-box, demanding the young Portuguese star, André Silva, to be handed the reigns as one of two starting strikers in the 3-5-2. Growing with impatience amidst a difficult spell, their calls were finally answered Sunday night as fringe boss Vincenzo Montella granted the Portuguese international his second Serie A start versus Roma at San Siro in a high-stakes affair.
Unfortunately for the home side and Montella, the Rossoneri could not get off the schneid, as Eusebio Di Francesco’s men struck twice in rapid succession, leaving Milano with 3 points. Yet, while talks continued to surround the future of the Milan post after back-to-back 2-0 defeats in the league, there were many who attempted to pull the positives from such a disappointing result, including the impressive performance from the former Porto man who undoubtedly left his mark.
Prior to last night, the promising number nine had been limited mostly to playing in Europa League qualifiers and Group Stage matches, both in which he often exhibited each of the mouthwatering qualities CEO Marco Fassone and Sporting Director Massimo Mirabelli splashed 38 million euros on last summer. It was in the late-August, two-legged tied with Shkendija where the 21-year first strut his stuff in the final third, bagging two goals and assisting another to help see his new club clinch a Group Stage birth. Less than a month later, Silva continued to stake his claim for a starting role with further dominance in European competition, showing his attacking verve by picking up his first hat-trick en-route to a commanding 5-1 win over Austria Vienna.
But, as we are all well aware of, the Club didn’t pay such an exorbitant sum for Silva’s tormenting to be strictly for provincial sides in the Europa League. No, when you pay nearly 40 million euros on a player in an area that’s been notoriously inconsistent since those days of Zlatan Ibrahimovic leading the front line, you expect a high grade of production in the league where results matter most – especially when the pressure to finish in the top four looms large. On Sunday, despite not finding the back of the net, Silva proved to us that despite his young age, he possesses all the necessary means to be the main man for Milan moving forward.
Unlike in previous years where Carlos Bacca’s impact became noticeably limited to the final third, André Silva’s tremendous depth as a 9.5 – with the desire to take up much more responsibility exceeding the realms of the penalty area – brings an entirely unique attacking DNA to the likes of which we haven’t seen in quite some time.
Prior to Sunday night, Silva’s two Serie A appearances came against Crotone (3-0) and SPAL (2-0). In those respective ties, we got but only a sample of his brightest qualities, and perhaps did not fully appreciate them either with newcomers Franck Kessie and Lucas Biglia stealing the show from the midfield. This is precisely why the decision to start Silva in a big match against a direct rival for the UEFA Champions League was a no brainer for Montella, simply because it would give us the proper opportunity to fully assess him as player new to Italy in a significant clash.
Starting with his movement and commitment to become an available option in the build-up against a Roma side who pressed early, notice Silva’s heat-map (via WhoScored) with a few minor additions from myself.
You can clearly see that he often dropped into the midfield with his back to goal to aid in the build-up, while also drifting out wide, either exploiting channels where he could possibly create chances on the attacking end, or link up with wing-backs to proceed up the pitch from his own half. Below is one of several instances where this was shown.
On the ball, Silva’s control and silky movement showed signs of maturity. Confidently, we witnessed the dexterity to evade his marker with slight feints, position himself for a move towards goal or a simple pass across the box to the likes of Hakan Calhanoglu. Though Silva may not have the foot speed, trickery and sizzle of fellow countryman Cristiano Ronaldo, you can see where his inspiration is drawn from when taking on defenders, as seen below.
Tracked and tailed by Bruno Peres, a few simple, yet clever, cutbacks earned him separation in the danger area to spot one of his two targets.
While Silva has yet to grab his maiden Serie A goal, what we saw Sunday at San Siro showed us there is a palpable sense of evolvement in a young player new to a league that can be quite difficult to adapt in.
With Montella on the hot-seat, and Milan currently suffering from a visible power outage in the attack (10 goals in 7 games, four from open play) André Silva’s recent string of performances throughout all competitions should certainly cement starting status for himself; there’s just too much to like in his game that passes the eye test and it cannot be caged up any longer.
We’ve seen the scoring touch come to the forefront in Europe, and it’s only a matter of time until that same success transcends domestically where the Rossoneri truly need it if they are to claw their way back into the top four conversation.