The Rossoneri strung together their second straight win on the weekend – a 4-1 beating of Hellas Verona. With the defeat, Verona sealed their fate of relegation to Serie B, while Milan leapt into a sixth place position sufficient enough to qualify for next season’s UEFA Europa League competition.
Prior to his 32nd minute goal to double Milan’s lead, striker Patrick Cutrone found himself in arguably the worst drought of his young career, having been scoreless in six matches since March 18th against, ironically enough, Verona’s rival Chievo.
Because of Milan’s documented lack of production up front all season long, it’s no surprise they shared that same struggle with their Primavera graduate to produce goals during a stretch in which their hopes of a Champions League evaporated – essentially for the first time since Gennaro Gattuso entered the fray late last year.
On the season, the recent Azzurri call-up has bagged 8 goals in just over 1,400 minutes domestically, far and away the top forward in an attack that expected much more from newcomers Nikola Kalinic and André Silva who have seven tallies combined.
Milan’s offensive woes may be attributed to several key factors, but none more detrimental than the sporadic spells of service to the forwards.
It’s known that at this stage of his career, Cutrone is still a product needing additional seasoning and adjustment to his play in order to support the cause. His movement off the ball to enter the proper pockets of space, along with a hunger for goal and instinctual finishing touch, have been praised throughout the season. Yet, with a striker of his profile that isn’t exactly creative, explosively quick in turning up the field or equipped with the flair to beat his man, Cutrone’s skill-set is best paired with supporting players who can advance into the final third, and allow him to latch onto balls in the penalty area.
When the well runs dry of chances for Cutrone to score, it’s difficult for him to leave an impact. Frustration settles in, and suddenly, the focus isn’t fully there. As Gattuso lamented in his post-match conference on Saturday, Cutrone “must have the desire and poison to learn and improve.
“At a certain point, he stopped. He only thought of goals he missed and the fact that he was not a starter. At his age, the priority should be given to the work that eventually bears fruit.”
Despite wandering in and out of Gattuso’s starting picture this season, Cutrone still largely remains the favorite of the former Milan midfielder, and a youngster who will continue to get his chances to deliver for his boyhood club for the foreseeable future.
In the event Milan fail to defeat Juventus on Wednesday in Rome for the Coppa Italia Final as their backdoor entry into Europe, the stakes will remain high in the league to ensure their berth. Whether they win the Cup or finish in the European zone could depend on whether Cutrone catches fire here down the stretch and rediscovers the form that put him on the map in the 2017-18 season.
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