As the winter transfer market comes to an end, there has been an audible grown from Milan fans across the soccer universe as to why Carlos Bacca still remains with the Rossoneri.
Amid heavy interest from West Ham, PSG, and Bacca’s former club Sevilla, Milan opted to hold on to the 30 year Colombian in hopes he could produce another 18 goal season. After scoring a hat trick in Milan’s opening game versus Torino, Bacca has been very quiet. Despite scoring 8 goals this season in Serie A, there are numerous reasons as to why the club should have cashed in and got a return on their investment made two summers ago.
The Emergence of Gianluca Lapadula
Over the course of the season, the debate revolving around who should start up front for Milan has been heavily analyzed. With summer transfer Gianluca Lapadula consistently knocking at the door, Bacca has felt the pressure from the former Pescara man. Numerous times this season we have seen Lapadula play with a passion that Bacca simply does not possess.
While Lapadula may not be the big-name striker big clubs like Milan look for, he offers an edge to his game which Bacca has been clearly lacking. Being the only two strikers on the roster, Vincenzo Montella must pick between the two every week. We have seen Bacca gifted the majority of the starts this season when available. With Lapadula being purchased for 10 million euro and Bacca 30 million respectively, Milan had the opportunity to gain extra transfer funds by selling the former Club Brugge striker knowing they have a suitable option in Lapadula. However, due to his lack of experience and the sale of Luiz Adriano, evidently they must not have felt comfortable selling the Colombian leaving the journeyman Lapadula as the only striker left on the roster.
Tactically, it makes all the sense in the world to sell Bacca as he simply does not fit in to the style of play that Montella believes in.
Despite having world-class finishing ability, his lack of technical ability and link up play often leaves him isolated. There have been many situations throughout the past two seasons where Bacca has disappeared for long periods of the match. Much like former AC Milan great Pippo Inzaghi, Bacca seems to be caught offside at least two to three times a match. Dropping deep into the play is simply not the type of striker Bacca is. His lack of work rate outside the penalty area has proved to be detrimental to Milan. His inconsistency and lack of creativity in the final third presents a problem under Vincenzo Montella’s system.
With a suspect midfield who has been less than impressive this season, Montella needs a number nine who is willing to go find the ball and make space for others rather than poach in the box waiting for an opportunity to score. Tactically, there is no debate that Bacca is striker who will struggle on a team who is possession based oriented.
Off The Pitch
In addition to the tactical issues that surround Bacca, Milan fans can certainly contest that his attitude is a frustrating one to say the least. Bacca continues to complain and argue with teammates and officials when things seem to not go his way. A report also surfaced earlier this season suggesting that Bacca and Montella had a ‘falling out’ due to former’s complaint of insufficient service. For a team with a history like red and black, this type of attitude is simply unacceptable going forward.
Bacca gave Milan supporters another reason to be outraged this season after travelling to Spain to watch his old team train while he was out injured. Rather than making the trip to Empoli and supporting the team – or even remain in Milan and receive additional treatment – Bacca chose to visit his former club’s home match. Ultimately, while Milan fans have seen an improvement this season compared to seasons past, they evidently still sit in seventh place. For a team who desperately needs a big-name midfielder and an improvement in defense, selling a big-name player who is expendable would be the right move.
We have seen young Italian strikers develop and prove themselves when given the chance to show their abilities. Names like, Andrea Belotti, Ciro Immobile, and Manolo Gabbiadini come to mind.
If given the opportunity, Gianluca Lapadula may be the energetic striker Montella needs to properly employ his desired tactical style of play. Despite his goal scoring ratio being considerably impressive, Milan would have been smart to sell Bacca as he simply has not made the difference they had hoped for when they purchased him two summers ago. Turning 31 this season, Bacca is not getting any younger and Milan would have been wise to cash in on their star man – while his value is still high.