There's a tendency in football—and indeed most sports—to lavish undue praise and predictions of greatness on any youngster making an impression in their formative years. With less than a season under his belt at Serie A giants AC Milan, M'Baye Niang is no different.
The striker arrived at Milan from French outfit Caen in the summer—the club where he had long fine-tuned his talents since his early teens.
He was somewhat unknown this time last year, but with less than 20 appearances for the Rossoneri, he has suddenly leaped onto the radar of scouts, media hacks and fans alike, including a host of Milan's European rivals. As ever, wherever the next big star is mentioned, Chelsea's apparent interest has cropped up.
Yet, what would the Frenchman bring to the Blues that they do not already have? Right now, the answer is very little. In truth, while his performances for Milan have shown plenty of promise, a return of just one goal this season does not scream of a world beater.
Sure, in some countries Niang would still be waiting to graduate high school, so he is far from the finished article right now. Goals may come, but the early impression is not of a player who will be leading the line with 20 goals or more in a campaign.
His manager, Massimiliano Allegri, has played the striker out wide in Milan's attacking trio this term, although that hasn't meant he's not found himself in goalscoring positions.
Nevertheless, when Niang has evaded his marker or created space for an opportunity, he's more often than not lacked the necessary composure to finish the job, which is concerning.
Labeling Niang a striker could very well be his undoing. The tag comes with the expectation of the player being a goalscorer, which this 18-year-old very well isn't. He offers something different to that.
Bleacher Report's John Baines recently gave an excellent insight to the types of striker Chelsea could be looking at come the summer as they plan for next season and beyond.
Highlighting five types, Baines' notion a "Livewire" would best describe Niang in this instance. The 18-year-old is full of youthful enthusiasm, running at defenders and generally trying his best to cause havoc in the opposing rearguard. Yet, Chelsea already have players of that ilk—and in abundance too.
Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Victor Moses, Marko Marin—they may not be strikers per se, but all play a similar role that Niang's attributes provide Milan. In the case of Mata and Hazard, they're far better at it, also.
Playing Niang requires a striker to feed off his ability to beat the opposition, and given what Chelsea have at their disposal right now, he would be half a player almost, with a more direct target man needed to provide consistency in finding the back of the net.
Barely into double figures in appearances for Milan, Niang remains an unknown quantity. In his compatriot Thierry Henry, however, he has one player who demonstrated that goal tallies in your youth mean very little when you reach maturity.
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