Milan closed out their 2014 summer transfer window with a €7 million deal for Atalanta winger Giacomo Bonaventura, per AC Milan News' Twitter Page.
Let's take a look at Milan's final summer signing and project how he will fit into Filippo Inzaghi's squad.
Bonaventura, 25, debuted for Atalanta in 2007, but save for a few cameos, he'd have to wait until the 2010-11 campaign to truly open his account.
In his first full season with the Bergamo outfit, Bonaventura notched nine goals in 33 Serie B matches, helping his club achieve promotion for the 2011-12 Serie A season.
It took time for the Italian international to acclimatize to the top flight as he recorded just two goals and one assist in 29 appearances.
The following year, Bonaventura more than tripled his goal haul, netting seven times in 35 matches, second only to German Denis on the club's scoring charts.
This past season was probably Bonaventura's best as he tallied five goals— tied for second on the team with Maximiliano Moralez— and three assists— third on the team behind Luca Cigarini and Moralez.
As we can see, Bonaventura isn't a prolific goalscorer, nor is he a particularly adept playmaker— per WhoScored.com, his 0.8 key passes per game are actually quite low— but he's a well-rounded footballer who contributes in every facet of the game.
He gets his shots away regularly and is a tremendous defender for his position. After left-back Federico Peluso signed for Juventus in January 2013, Bonaventura flourished upon the increase of his defensive responsibility.
A dynamic offensive player, Bonaventura is technically sound and exhibits impressive control. He isn't a particularly fast player, but is a savvy attacker who mixes industrious sticktoitiveness with composed skill.
It's difficult to predict where Inzaghi will deploy Bonaventura, but given his recent selection of Jeremy Menez as a centre-forward and Keisuke Honda as a right-winger, it seems Pippo won't be overly worried about fielding players out of their favored positions.
Atalanta manager Stefano Colantuono predominantly deployed the 25-year-old as a right-footed, left-winger in his 4-4-1-1, per WhoScored positional data.
Here's how Bonaventura stacks up against Milan's other wingers. Please note that El Shaarawy's numbers are from 2012-13, his last full season, M'Baye Niang's stats are from his 2014 loan to Montpellier.
|Bonaventura vs. Milan Wingers: A Statistical Comparison|
It must be said that neither Honda's nor Menez's statistics are indicative of their qualities—the Japanese international was adjusting to Italian football while Menez was a bit-part player at PSG last season.
Stephan El Shaarawy will surely see the lion's share of playing time on the left flank, so Inzaghi will have to be creative if he wishes to integrate Bonaventura into the starting XI.
Colantuono did play him as an attacking midfielder during the 2012-13 season, but there is no trequartista in the 4-3-3. Right-wing is also an option as he's seen a smattering of appearances on the right flank, but Menez and Honda— both of whom looked great in Sunday's opener against Lazio— figure to play there as well.
However, if Menez or Honda falters, Bonaventura will have a major chance. The Frenchman is prone to drifting in and out of games and isn't a very engaged off-the-ball player, while Honda—despite his well-taken goal last weekend—did struggle adapting to Italian football last term.
Though he's only played on the right sparingly, Bonaventura could do well as a traditional winger as he's a decent crosser, has a direct approach and would cover for either Mattia De Sciglio's or Ignazio Abate's forward runs.
He'll have to win his way into the starting XI as one would expect a fit Giampaolo Pazzini—or even Fernando Torres—to eventually lead the line, shifting Menez out wide, or to the bench in the event Honda is chosen at right-wing.
Via Football-Italia, Bryan Cristante's move to Benfica paved the way for the Bonaventura transfer and though it came at the cost of a promising young midfielder, the swap recouped a Milan-quality player who has markedly improved over the past three years.
In Bonaventura, Inzaghi has a solid utility attacker with the quality to succeed in any role.
Statistics courtesy of WhoScored.
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