Although Milan were in the hunt for Andrea Belotti and Álvaro Morata, André Silva was welcomed with open arms and high expectations after his unexpected transfer.
The Portuguese striker is a graduate of the impressive FC Porto academy, so naturally the promise was always there. After spending time at the bottom of the striking pecking order behind names such as Vincent Aboubakar and Dani Osvaldo, Silva was finally given a chance to shine in Porto’s 2016-2017 campaign. In a season where he played in 51 matches, including all competitions, Silva found the back of the net an astounding 27 times.
Before breaking out on the club level, Silva impressed for years throughout the youth ranks for the Portuguese national team. In 70 appearances ranging from the Under-16 level to the Under-21 level, Silva scored a total of 32 goals. He has continued to wreak havoc on the senior level, scoring 11 goals in 20 appearances partnered with world-class talents such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Bernardo Silva.
Silva’s 2016-2017 season caught the eye of the new Milan management, who worked silently with super-agent Jorge Mendes to bring Silva to Milan in a move that seemed to happen almost overnight. Milan fans were hopeful in landing either Belotti or Morata, but the asking price for both strikers proved to be too hefty. Silva’s success in the Portuguese Liga and experience in Champions League still brought jubilance to the Rossoneri faithful. Carlos Bacca had been somewhat reliable in the teams line-up for two seasons, but Milan wanted a young star who could light up Serie A and become the face of their team.
The move has not panned out as Silva or Milan had expected. Although Silva had a solid Europa League record of six goals in 10 matches, he has only found the back of the net in two different occasions in 23 league appearances. Milan do find themselves in the Coppa Italia final versus Juventus in May, but Silva did not play a role in that as he lacked a finishing touch in his two appearances in the competition. A grand total of eight goals in 35 appearances for a striker who cost the club 38 million euros has been disappointing to say the very least.
The young Patrick Cutrone had managed to steal the show for a portion of the season, while the uninspiring Nikola Kalinić has continued to see time on the pitch over Silva which has resulted in many fans voicing their displeasure. Milan, now mathematically eliminated from the Champions League race, have faltered in the league for the past few years for a variety of reasons, but the most apparent is that they’ve lacked something every other successful team has had – an elite striking option.
Juventus has Gonzalo Higuaín, Napoli has Dries Mertens, Roma has Edin Džeko, Lazio has Ciro Immobile, Inter has Mauro Icardi, and so on. Milan’s top striker, the young Patrick Cutrone, looks to have a promising career ahead of him but is simply not yet at the level of the aforementioned strikers. With this being said, rumors have once again heated up about Milan potentially re-considering a bid for Belotti this summer. Belotti’s arrival, however, would possibly see an end to Silva’s time with the Rossoneri.
After Milan’s brilliant run of form, the team slowed down and continued to draw games after their most recent defeat to Juventus. The team hoped to end that run versus bottom-feeders Benevento this past weekend, and Gennaro Gattuso planned to light up the fireworks by starting both Silva and Cutrone up front. Instead, Milan lacked any determination or heart, and lost 1-0 in a match where Silva ended labeled as the ‘flop of the match’ by many.
Milan now have four matches left in the league and the Coppa Italia final. Silva needs to up the ante in these matches in an attempt to win back the hearts of the fans, management, and Gattuso. His performances under former manager Vincenzo Montella were excused due to him “adjusting to a new league” and not getting enough time on the pitch, but he has yet to display his supposed talent in the time Gattuso has granted him. The challenge with this, however, is if he will actually continue to receive more playing time after proving to be wasteful.
Silva’s poor run of form with Milan shouldn’t stop him from being called up to Portugal’s squad for the national team in this summer’s World Cup, however. His track record for the team and relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo will make it tough for manager Fernando Santos to justify snubbing him. If Silva fails to find the back of the net on at least a couple occasions for the Rossoneri during the remainder of the season, he will need to use the World Cup as a spring-board to once again ignite the potential many believe the 22-year-old still has.
It has been reported that Silva has attracted interest from a number of English teams, so Milan may be tempted to sell. Due to their inability to qualify for Champions League, Milan may be restricted in the transfer window and be forced to sell in order to bring in new players. Patience is running thin with Silva, and there’s a large number of Milan fans who believe it’s Belotti’s destiny to wear red and black. The Silva experiment has been a failure up to date, and Milan knows they need a formidable striker to compete for a Champions League spot. Silva’s remaining chances are limited and his time with the Rossoneri may come to an unfortunate early conclusion.