The Croatian roared to life on Sunday afternoon against Udinese at the San Siro for the first time.
There has been a bit of hype surrounding Nikola Kalinic and AC Milan as a whole as his move from Tuscany to Lombardy signified the Rossoneri’s conclusion of their summer transfer market overhaul. While Fiorentina is a massive club, AC Milan is a different beast.
Today, in his first Serie A start for Milan, Kalinic scored a brace and had a third goal controversially taken away by VAR even though the replays showed Kalinic in-line with Udinese’s backline.
Regardless of missing a hat trick, the Milan no.7 ended up scoring both of Milan’s goals in their 2-1 win over Udinese and he, overall, impressed quite a bit in his first start for the club. With the movement and style reminiscent of a Pippo Inzaghi, the Croat seems to be the perfect poacher for this Milan side.
Both of Nikola’s goals against Udinese today came from inside the 6-yard area. These scrambling, right-place-at-the-right-time goals are indicators of a quality, no-nonsense poacher. Not only this, but his off-the-ball movement and overall awareness, which got him into great scoring positions, were truly world class. His ability to draw defenders to make room for players like Suso, Rodriguez and Bonaventura were highlighted in today’s match and are to be looked forward to as the season progresses as Milan gradually continues to mesh and mold.
Kalinic, like all great poachers, was not flashy or constantly in the spotlight against Udinese. Instead, he quietly did his job- opening and holding up play while constantly disturbing Udinese’s backline. When his chances came, they were not pretty, however, he took advantage of them with grit and sheer determination and found himself the back of the net twice.
With a Milan side full of creative play-makers, having someone like Kalinic to simplify the game at the striker position could become a deadly combination. The Croat may not be a shiny name, but Kalinic will deliver goals for AC Milan in bunches if today was any indicator.