The Turkish international continues to win over the hearts of Rossoneri fans with his recent good run of form. After an exceptional performance Sunday evening, Hakan Calhanolgu is one for Serie A fans to keep an eye on.
With only three points separating the two sides going into the match, a hungry Milan knew that a victory Sunday evening would mean they pull level for the final European spot available in Serie A. After putting in one of their best performances in recent years, Gennaro Gattuso’s squad has proved they mean business coming into the home stretch of the season.
A name that many Serie A pundits cast aside after a shaky start to the season, Hakan Calhanoglu has been revitalized since the change in manager early December. Playing on the left side of a front three, the former Leverkusen man has shown he is much more than just a free kick specialist.
Always active and buzzing around the ball, Calhanoglu was arguably Milan’s main source of attack against Marco Giampaolo’s side. Linking up time and time again with Ricardo Rodriguez down the left flank, the Rossoneri’s number 10 was able to create space for his teammates whilst in possession. Completing 89% of his passes, he was able to navigate one touch passes with fellow standout and match-winner Giacomo Bonaventura, while also managing to switch the run of play with countless diagonal balls across the pitch to Suso.
In addition to his link up play, he was seemingly always a threat to take a shot from distance at any time, most notably hitting the woodwork with a bullet strike just outside the eighteen yard box mid way through the second half.
Hakan Çalhanoglu’s performance by the numbers vs Sampdoria:
58/65 passing (89%)
4 key passes
3 shots on target
1 shot off woodwork
2 successful dribbles
4 successful tackles
Number 🔟 pic.twitter.com/pDo8PGHS4o
— ItalianFootballDaily (@ItalianFD) February 18, 2018
While his technical ability has never been in question, it is truly fascinating to watch the work Calhanolgu does while off the ball. Being up 1-0 for most of the match, Milan had to be responsible defensively. For a left winger, Calhanoglu posted some fantastic statistics off the ball, winning four tackles and intercepting two opposition passes. With the game on the line in stoppage time, he was able to hustle back and earn much needed possession for his side after knocking the ball off a Sampdoria player to earn a throw.
Milan have gone undefeated in the last ten matches, and it is no coincidence that Calhanoglu’s form has rose rapidly during this time. He has been oozing confidence as of late and has seemingly earned Gattuso’s trust as a regular in the starting eleven.
A versatile attacking midfielder who shows great work ethic both on and off the ball, Calhanoglu is one too watch as Milan make their run for European football.