AC Milan have had a hot-and-cold start to the season with one win and one loss in the Serie A, and that is to be expected given the changes within the squad.
Milan have lost two key players, Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose quality has not been replaced. Along with those two, the squad have seen a host of experienced players like Filippo Inzaghi, Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta also head out the door.
What the club have gotten in return is a much more youthful first team that hinges on the likes of Kevin Prince-Boateng and Alexandre Pato.
Among the new additions, one player in particular could make a major difference for the squad this season.
De Jong will likely turn into the best signing the club acquired this summer, as he gives Milan one of the most accomplished defensive midfielders in the league.
The Dutchman brings championship winning experience, something that few of the remaining Milan players have, and skills that will enable teammates like Riccardo Montolivo to flourish offensively.
De Jong will likely line up as one of the three midfielders behind Prince-Boateng. Montolivo should be assured a place there with his ability to pull the strings from deep, and one of either Antonio Nocerino, Massimo Ambrosini or Mathieu Flamini will take up the next position.
Whoever plays alongside de Jong will have less to worry about defensively when compared to Mark van Bommel in a similar position last season.
He is a more mobile player than van Bommel and will prove to be a very effective presence when he becomes a regular starter.
Some of his statistics in key areas such as tackles per game and interceptions per game are lower than some of his current teammates, but he was not a major influence for Manchester City given that he spent half his time—10 games out of 21—coming off the bench.
Those numbers will certainly rise with more playing time and alleviate a player like Montolivo of having too many defensive duties in the process.
Montolivo is certainly capable of helping in defense, as his own statistics show, but Massimiliano Allegri will be keen to see the Italian dictate play, like Andrea Pirlo did before him (via WhoScored.com).
The type of defensive presence de Jong creates is common knowledge, but he also provides the team with an accomplished passer of the ball and someone who takes good care of it as well.
He was rarely dispossessed last season, a total of one time in 21 games overall, and his passing completion percentage was 92.3 percent (h/t WhoScored.com).
That completion percentage places him above all of his current teammates and will be key to the club's quest to control games.
De Jong's presence gives Milan a much more complete midfield group, whether he is playing with high-energy acts like Antonio Nocerino or another more defensively stable player like Massimo Ambrosini.
As the defense begins to form solid partnerships without the duo of Thiago Silva and Alessandro Nesta, it will have a player shielding it who is great in the tackle, good positionally and effective with possession.
It may take a little time, but in the long run, the addition of de Jong will make AC Milan harder to beat.
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