Strengths and Weaknesses of AC Milan Transfer Target Alessio Romagnoli
The price for AS Roma defender Alessio Romagnoli only went up and up. The number is now €25 million, at least for AC Milan. That's where their bidding currently stands, according to SportMediaset (h/t Football Italia).
Their pursuit of the 20-year-old is well-informed. Newly appointed Milan manager Sinisa Mihajlovic coached Romagnoli last season while he was on loan at Sampdoria. And it looks like Mihajlovic, now with a questionable set of defenders at Milan, is determined to get his old pupil.
The cost is the biggest sticking point, and on the surface, it's a lot of money for a relatively untested player. But upon closer viewing, Romagnoli is wise beyond his years. He is calm, confident and exactly the kind of signing Milan need to make.
Here's a look at his strengths and weaknesses.
There is no ball Romagnoli isn't willing to reach. He is unafraid to slide in and time a tackle in dangerous situations, and it's not uncommon for him to break up the play in the penalty area.
Romagnoli made 2.1 interceptions per game for Sampdoria last season, according to WhoScored.com, and that was the most of any Sampdoria player in Serie A with 10 appearances or more.
He did pick up nine yellow cards throughout the 2014-15 campaign, but it's his ambition to get into and out of tough spots that separates him from other young defenders.
It's also an apparent mandate of Romagnoli's game to get to the ball first. Often, he will step up and pressure the opponent on the ball. He'll stick out his foot and see if he can flick play away.
But it isn't mindless, desperate defending. There is something calculated about the way Romagnoli plays. He knows how to initiate the transition game, the spark from defence to offence. Romagnoli will step up and head it towards a teammate up the field, or he will free the ball and carry it up himself.
Sometimes, it's a bit of a risky proposition, and on a team like Milan, with their defensive frailties, Romagnoli may not be able to take such liberties. But his head is always in the game, looking up at the next play.
Romagnoli stands over six feet tall, and he uses every inch to his advantage.
If a ball comes across the box, Romagnoli can and will put his head to it. He was among the top 15 players in Serie A in clearances with an average of 6.3 per game, according to WhoScored.com.
This is a defender with real focus. He can prevent threatening attacks before they fully form.
His proficiency in the air is particularly useful to Milan. They have struggled with their aerial game for years. Their set-piece defending has been some of the worst in Serie A. Romagnoli finally would offer a cure.