Stefano Pioli
FLORENCE, ITALY - APRIL 07: Stefano Pioli head coach of ACF Fiorentina looks on during the Serie A match between ACF Fiorentina and Frosinone Calcio at Stadio Artemio Franchi on April 7, 2019 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

Turnover is a common theme nowadays for AC Milan. Marco Giampaolo took the reigns of the club this past summer and was sacked after merely 111 days in charge. Stefano Pioli, former Inter and Fiorentina manager, was appointed earlier this week. The opportunity for Milan’s return to the top four is still plausible, and Pioli will have his hands full. The Italian will likely revert to a 4-3-3 formation, so what should that look like?

Best AC Milan Line-Up Under Stefano Piolo

Defence

There are two clear and obvious locks for the Rossoneri defence. Gianluigi Donnarumma is the team’s number one in goal. Donnarumma has been the starter for years and is arguably the greatest prospect in Europe at the position. Alessio Romagnoli is the team’s captain and soul. The centre back is elite in Italy, and the team’s success runs through him.

The other centre back position is a wildcard. Mateo Musacchio is the front-runner for now. The Argentine is often quite shaky, but a more reliable option while Leo Duarte adjusts to European football. Mattia Caldara, however, has returned to training after constant injuries. If the Italian can find his Atalanta form, he will undoubtedly become Romagnoli’s partner in the back.

Theo Hernandez is looking more and more likely to take the left-back position from Ricardo Rodriguez. Hernandez offers more going forward, as seen in his goal in his first start against Genoa, while Rodriguez has also been a shadow of his former self thus far.

Davide Calabria will likely remain the starter at right back. He hasn’t started off the season in good form, but his past longevity should earn him the position over Andrea Conti.

Midfield

Milan must give up on Lucas Biglia as a starter. The veteran has seen better days, and cannot be relied upon anymore on a weekly basis. Milan have Ismaël Bennacer, former AFCON Player of the Tournament and a true rising star in Italian football. Bennacer has the ability to completely control a game, making him seem a no-brainer inclusion in the centre of the pitch.

Franck Kessie has been a mainstay in the Milan line-up for two seasons now and will remain one. Although he has the tendency to make boneheaded decisions, the Ivorian can be the hardest worker on the pitch with his endless motor. Kessie hasn’t developed as some thought, but the truth is that Milan don’t currently have a better option in the role.

The last spot goes to Lucas Paqueta. The Brazilian is still on a learning curve but has shown signs of immense potential. He provides skill and flair to the midfield, with the ability to create something out of nothing. He isn’t as seasoned as one like Giacomo Bonaventura, who has struggled with injuries, but his pure talent is hard to pass on.

Attack

The easiest position to get out of the way is Suso on the right flank. The Spaniard is a constant threat to cut into the final third and curl it into the goal or deliver dangerous crosses. Anything Milan do up-front runs through Suso, and he is a major mainstay in the line-up.

The striker position is quite interesting. Based on name alone, Krzysztof Piątek would merit the starting position. Piątek, however, has struggled and looked completely lost this season while Rafael Leão has impressed. A run into the top four requires Piątek to be scoring, however, and he should be given a chance to find his form versus newly-promoted Lecce after the international break.

There is still space for Leão, however, as he should become the starter on the left flank. Leão offers pace and creativity, something Milan has been starved of. He is starting to adjust well in Italy and should develop into a star, leaving Pioli with no choice. Ante Rebić could make a claim to start, but he hasn’t cemented a true role in the squad yet. Rebić has clear talent as seen through his play in Germany and internationally, and he will surely find a strong role off the bench.

Expectations for Stefano Pioli

Pioli was not a glamorous hire. As a matter of fact, #PioliOut was a trending hashtag on Twitter when his arrival was announced.

Nonetheless, the Rossoneri must back their new manager to guide them into the top four. It was clear from the beginning that Giampaolo was not working out, and Pioli will be under a microscope. This Milan team has talent, but it’s up to Pioli to find it and light it up.

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