How Will Jeremy Menez Fit into AC Milan's Plans This Season?

Bobak Abdolmohammadi@@BobdolmoCorrespondent IMarch 1, 2017

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 12:  Jeremy Menez of PSG walks to the bench prior to the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Paris Saint-Germain FC and Bayer Leverkusen at Parc des Princes on March 12, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Filippo Inzaghi wasted little time securing the signing of Jeremy Menez from Paris Saint-Germain this summer, personally meeting with Menez in Ibiza to convince him to join the Rossoneri's latest project.

Given that Inzaghi had yet to even be confirmed as former Milan boss Clarence Seedorf's successor at the time of said meeting, it is clear that he possesses a high opinion of Menez's talents as a footballer. The Italian acted with urgency to tie him up before a rival could do the same.

Inzaghi has discussed his preference for a shift away from Seedorf's attack-minded 4-2-3-1 formation.

"I will try to bring my own methods. I like 4-3-3 or 4-4-2," he stated to reporters last week (via Football Italia).

It is clear that Inzaghi has a vision in mind as he ushers Milan into a new era, and it is certainly telling that he moved for Menez in such quick fashion. 

For all the discussion about signing attacking players like Alessio Cerci and Ezequiel Lavezzi—as reported by Sky Sports' Nadia Carminati and Sky Sport Italia (h/t Forza Italian Football), respectively—it is worth considering whether Milan will really stump up the cash required to sign a player of that caliber when Menez has just arrived.

Presumably, Menez was given some guarantees that he would receive the kind of playing time he sorely lacked at PSG (he only made seven Ligue 1 starts and one Champions League start).

The most interesting aspect about Menez is that he seems a logical fit as a right winger opposite Stephan El Shaarawy; the right flank also happens to be the natural position for Cerci or Lavezzi.

While most Milan fans would jump at the prospect of the team making a splash for one of these players, it seems unlikely that any arrivals would necessarily push Menez out of the reckoning for regular playing time.

In the new era of fiscal responsibility at Milan, the fact that Menez was a free transfer follows trends that have been in play for years now—Kaka, Michael Essien, Michael Agazzi, Alex and Menez are but a few of the free transfers Milan have made just in the past year.

Whether Milan fans like it or not, Menez is going to play a big role on the right side of the attack this year.

In the aforementioned 4-3-3, he would be a right-winger, with El Shaarawy supporting Mario Balotelli up front. 

Were Inzaghi to opt for an occasional 4-4-2, he would be a fit as the right midfielder. While he garnered a reputation for being lazy at times during his previous stint in Italy with AS Roma, he appears to have matured and developed a penchant for tracking back to help the defense.

Of course, his linkage with Milan's right-back will be important, and Milan currently employ two of the brightest attacking full-backs in Italy right now in Mattia De Sciglio and Ignazio Abate.

Whether De Sciglio will play at right-back and directly link up with Menez is under question pending Milan's search for a solution at the left-back position.

Domenico Criscito has been linked to the Rossoneri by La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Football Italia), and his arrival would likely end Abate's days in Milan and give De Sciglio the permanent job at right-back.

Either way, Menez and El Shaarawy will need to help back on defense more than usual in order to protect Milan's limited midfield.

Menez, for his part, has displayed a professional attitude toward his move so far.

"I will give my best to prove that I have improved and matured," he told reporters at his official unveiling last week (via Football Italia), "I am back in Italy after a couple of years and I hope to show everyone my skills and to entertain the fans."

It would be vital to Milan's cause if Menez is able to back up his words with strong play on the field. Early indications are pointing in the right direction in that regard.

As such, it would be wise for Milan to allow Menez to prove himself, irrespective of whether another, flashier signing arrives to bolster the attack. 

Small steps are being taken to correct past failures at Milan, and the hope remains that Menez will play a role in bringing Milan back to European competition.