Diego Laxalt to Milan (Lapadula’s redemption of 11 million, plus 7 million including bonuses) Grade: B+
This deal had shades of Galliani written all over- Milan acquires a player from Genoa in the last week of the window, and centers it around Lapadula, a player previously involved in a transaction between the two club. While Leonardo somewhat imitated one of his mentors, Milan acquired a significant player from Genoa unlike Galliani’s last acquisitions from Preziosi’s club (Bertolacci and Antonelli).
After his strong performances in the recent World Cup, it’s rather odd to that a bigger market didn’t develop around Laxalt- especially when you consider how hard it is to find a quality left wing back. Laxalt will give Gattuso tactical flexibility- it’s not out of the question he can start at left back in a 4 man defense, as a left wing back in a 3 man back line with Ricardo Rodriguez as the third center back alongside Romagnoli and Caldara, or even as an offensive left winger.
If you’re a Milan fan and all of the above doesn’t excite you, then remember you can even get to torment Inter fans about this move since the nerazzurri previously owned him before shipping him off to Genoa in a deal for Ansaldi.
Tiemoue Bakayoko to Milan (loan with option to buy for a total of 40 million) Grade B-
There’s no doubt that last season Milan missed Juraj Kucka’s tenacity. Aside from Frank Kessie, who slowed down by the end of the season after appearing in many back to back matches, the rossoneri lacked a quality defensive midfielder who could bring muscle and grinta- it’s probably not setting the bar too high to expect Bakayoko to contribute as least as much as Kucka did during his two seasons at San Siro.
While Bakayoko is coming off a disastrous first season in the Premier League, he’s by no means the first player to struggle at Chelsea only to later blossom elsewhere. While it’s unreasonable for Bakayoko to turn into the next Salah or De Bruyne, it’s not out of the question he follows Cuadrado’s path- the Colombian international left Stamford Bridge after failing to establish himself and became a very valuable member of Allegri’s rotations at Juventus. Considering that Bakayoko was part of the Champions League team of the season back in 2017, Milan is taking a very low risk/high reward type of gamble.
Keita Balde to Inter (5 million for loan, 34 million option to buy) Grade B+
Luciano Spalletti has been obsessed with the former Barcelona youth team product since he scored two goals for Lazio in the derby that took place on April 30th 2017. While Inter failed to sign him last summer when he joined Monaco, they got their man a year later.
Keita will give Spalletti another high quality option up front- he can play as a second striker or as a winger, which will allow Inter to rotate him Perisic and Politano and ensure Lautaro Martinez isn’t rushed into adapting to Serie A too quickly. Despite only being 23, Keita has already appeared in over 100 Serie A matches and has the potential to become one of the best forwards in the league.
Steven N’Zonzi to Roma (30 million including bonuses) Grade A-
For the second time in his career, Monchi has acquired the French international and you can make a great case Barcelona did him a favor by hijacking the Malcom deal. While landing the Bordeaux winger would have given Di Francesco another exciting upfront, there was a much bigger need for a quality defensive midfielder when you consider De Rossi’s age and Gonalons struggles last season.
N’Zonzi will bring muscle and height to Roma’s midfield- two qualities sorely lacking last season. While some have questioned the idea of investing substantially in a player who will turn 30 in December of this year, it’s important to note Roma have acquired numerous young players in Coric, Cristante, Zaniolo and Kluivert who all have the potential to grow in value substantially in the coming years.
In the short term N’Zonzi should help Roma stay in the top four in the standings, the club needs the Champions League revenues to continue their forward trajectory. By the time N’Zonzi starts to decline, Roma should be able to count on at least one of their younger players developing into his replacement.