Cutrone deserves to start; Gattuso refuses to rule out Higuain departure

AC Milan advanced to the quarter-finals of Coppa Italia after beating Sampdoria by two goals to nil away from home. However, the road there wasn’t exactly convincing, as the Rossoneri just about managed to hold on until extra-time, when Cutrone changed it all. 

Ahead of the Supercup final on Wednesday, Milan fans would’ve been hoping for a convincing display this evening, or at least a better one than what we got. For a majority of the game, Sampdoria seemingly dominated Gattuso’s side, only failing to beat a brilliant Reina in goal. Although Milan also had chances, one of which was very dangerous, it seemed after 90 minutes of play that perhaps Sampdoria deserved to go through.

Luckily, once the extra-time started, all of this changed as a result of two substitutions that Gattuso made, particularly one. In the 91st minute, Cutrone was introduced in the game, ordered to play alongside Higuain up front. However, it wasn’t until Conti came on in the 99th minute that things took off. The Italian right-back had only been on the pitch for three minutes when he picked out Cutrone in the box with a lovely cross, and the target man made no mistakes.

As if that wasn’t enough, three minutes into the second half of extra-time, Cutrone once again caught the defence off guard as he capitalized on a Calhanoglu cross, lobbing the ball past Rafael in goal. Higuain, on the other hand, left the game goalless and Gattuso didn’t exactly confirm his future with the Rossoneri amid Chelsea rumours.

“When a player makes decisions, then it’s also difficult to convince him. You try. Right now, he’s a Milan player and we hold onto him tightly. I don’t know what will happen, we tell each other things face to face and I want this attitude from him,” he told MilanTV.

All but reassuring, in my opinion, which certainly begs the question: who would Milan sign to replace him? In the summer, there will be many options, such as Piatek. This month, however, it’s suddenly a lot harder. Former Rossonero man Pato seems to always be an option, though it’s hard to see him take up a spot in the starting eleven, but rather as an alternative.

On the other hand, since Cutrone frankly has outperformed Higuain, one could argue that he should be the starting striker. Therefore, the Pato option could work, also because it seems to be the best economical option. Should Higuain leave, then Milan won’t make use of the €36m buy-out option, while they would save a lot of money on the Argentinian’s high wages.

As the FFP situation has taken control of the Rossoneri’s transfer market, one could understand why Leonardo and Maldini are evaluating every possibility that comes up, including the departure of one of their biggest stars.

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