Is Kevin-Prince Boateng dispensable?
With the likelihood that Robinho will remain with Milan next season after talks with Santos collapsed, the Italian media have switched their attention to his team-mate, Kevin-Prince Boateng. Rumours suggest interest from Galatasaray, but is the Prince dispensable?
Alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Boateng excelled the season before last as he seamlessly combined his tireless nature with quality in the final third and an ability to find the net. He was heralded as the ideal modern day footballer, producing class whilst also never neglecting the fundamentals of the game.
However, last season was generally a struggle for the 26-year-old as he failed to replicate the form of the previous campaign in the trequartista role. While he never lost sight of sacrificing himself for the good of the team, the distinct lack of quality in a position so vital to the Rossoneri’s progress ensured that criticism increased as the season wore on.
Critics aimed their wrath not only at the player, but also at coach Massimiliano Allegri, who continued to field Boateng in the role despite clearly not seeing results. In Boateng’s defence, his desperation for some sort of consistency would have been thwarted by constant positional changes early in the season, as he was also deployed on the wings on occasion.
Nevertheless, Boateng arguably produced one of his best performances of the season in the Coppa Italia quarter-final clash against Juventus in Turin, where he played a more withdrawn role in the midfield three.
His attributes are those of a box-to-box midfielder, where he can utilise his workmanlike attitude whilst also adding pace, flair and energy to the midfield trio alongside the likes of Riccardo Montolivo and Nigel de Jong.
With the arrival of Riccardo Saponara this summer, coupled with the expected signing of Keisuke Honda, whether that be now or in January, Boateng’s days in a more advanced role with Milan are numbered. The decision that must now be made is whether or not the two parties are willing to resort back to playing him in midfield.
If that is the case, then the Rossoneri must offload some of the squad players that are clearly making up the numbers at this stage. Speculation suggests Antonio Nocerino could well be making his way to the exit door, but where the club are going wrong is by continuing to keep the likes of Bakaye Traore on the books.
Boateng still has a role to play under Allegri, but the consequences of this particular positional switch must also be considered. While Saponara will hopefully be given significant minutes next season, the same opportunity must be at least offered to the likes of Andrea Poli and Bryan Cristante.
If Milan are to successfully integrate more youth team products, they must be allowed to mature and develop through receiving notable playing time whether that be in the league, the Coppa Italia or perhaps even in Europe.
It has become apparent that Boateng’s future at the club is in question, but there is still a case for Milan to show faith in the player and dismiss the interest in him. The former Ghana international struggled to prosper in a role that will become increasingly important next season, but a switch to a more suitable position may well save his Milan career.
If a decent offer arrives, should Milan sell Boateng? Or does his future lie in Milan, playing as part of a three-man midfield?