Along with the team as a whole, Hakan Calhanoglu has come out of the lockdown firing as he has played an integral role in Milan’s improved form since the restart.
The Turkish international has had, and will continue to have, his doubters as ultimately he hasn’t delivered consistently enough to necessarily convince that he’s worthy of such a crucial role in the side.
His work ethic and commitment can’t be faulted, but there has often been a lack of quality and end product to his play which is essentially what he’s in the side to provide and that has been missing far too often.
Since the restart though, he has been in top form and under the stewardship of Stefano Pioli who has worked so well in terms of developing his players, he is starting to show real quality and importantly, it’s on display week in and week out.
Decisive role in superb run of form
Prior to the lockdown, the 26-year-old had managed just three goals and one assist in 23 Serie A games.
In the eight games since the restart, he has scored four goals and provided five assists.
That in itself tells the story of Calhanoglu’s influence on the side and how he has grown into a pivotal piece of our attack and is making us tick in the final third with his important contribution in the 4-2-3-1 system.
There is no doubt that the role and responsibility that Pioli has given him in recent weeks has got the best out of him, and he even conceded as much after the win over Bologna this weekend.
“Pioli lets me play the way I want to, he talks to me off the field too and helped me a lot. I can say that I play for him too, because he is a very, very important person for me and everyone in the team,” he told DAZN, as per Football Italia.
“We’re really lucky to have a coach like this working with us.”
With the technical quality, passing range, vision and goal threat that he is capable of providing to go with his work-rate and desire off the ball, Calhanoglu ticks all the right boxes in terms of the player Milan need in the side in that 4-2-3-1 system if we wish to press teams and attack quickly.
His main issue since he joined us in 2017 is that he doesn’t score or assist enough goals. He has found a solution to fix that problem over the last eight games, and it’s hoped that this is a genuine breakthrough for him and he’ll continue to build on that in the remaining fixtures this season and beyond.
However, there is always another test that he has to pass in order to fully convince his most ardent of doubters, and so it’s hoped that he can continue to make such a decisive impact when we face two tough assignments against Sassuolo and Atalanta in our next two games.