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Theo Hernandez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Notable Stats for AC Milan from December

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistDecember 31, 2019

BERGAMO, ITALY - DECEMBER 22: Krzysztof Piatek of AC Milan  during the Italian Serie A   match between Atalanta Bergamo v AC Milan at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d Italia on December 22, 2019 in Bergamo Italy (Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

AC Milan will be hoping 2020 can rejuvenate spirits at the San Siro as they bring the curtain down on a year to forget. 

December started well for the Rossoneri, stringing together back-to-back wins on the road against Parma and Bologna.

However, the team were disappointing in a 0-0 draw with Sassuolo, before they suffered a 5-0 hammering at the hands of Atalanta before the winter break. It leaves Milan down in 11th in Serie A, eight points off a European place.

Here are some of the key numbers and highlights from the December matches, with manager Stefano Pioli hoping the side's fortunes improve in January after the acquisition of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Milan Statistical Leaders in Serie A

Goals: Krzysztof Piatek (4 goals), Theo Hernandez (4), Giacomo Bonaventura (2), Hakan Calhanoglu (2), Frank Kessie (1), Suso (1), Rafael Leao (1)

Assists: Suso (2), Davide Calabria (1), Hakan Calhanoglu (1), Lucas Biglia (1), Lucas Paqueta (1), Rade Krunic (1), Theo Hernandez (1)

      

Milan's 2019 Ends With a Whimper

Although Milan made progress at the start of the month with seven points taken from a possible nine, any good work was undone by their hammering in Bergamo.

Atalanta were rampant against the seven-time European champions, showcasing how far ahead of Milan they have moved in the Serie A pecking order. Defensively, Pioli's side were hopeless, with the home side running riot even without star strikers Duvan Zapata and Josip Ilicic.

Here are the highlights from one of the lowest points for Milan for many years:

The defeat was the heaviest the Rossoneri has suffered for many years:

Classic Football Shirts @classicshirts

Game of the Weekend: We've picked the 5-0 win for Atalanta over AC Milan, which was Milan's worst defeat in 21 years It was the first outing for Atalanta's Christmas shirt and might want to wear it more if they get results like this! What was your game of the weekend? https://t.co/naPzw4lY5y

The contrast between the two sides was stark. Atalanta's progress in recent years has been on the basis of smart recruitment and a clear identity implemented by those in leadership positions at the top of the club.

Milan have lacked that kind of stability for a long time. Per football writer David Amoyal, even with superior funds available when compared to sides like Atalanta, they are toiling:

David Amoyal @DavidAmoyal

Milan’s payroll is three times the size of Atalanta’s- how many rossoneri would start for Gasperini’s team today? (Honest question, curios to hear your answers)

Pioli will hope the acquisition of Ibrahimovic will at least bring some on-field leadership back to the squad.

The 38-year-old is a popular figure at the San Siro, having helped Milan win the Serie A title in 2010-11. The season after, he enjoyed one of the most prolific seasons ever had by a Rossoneri striker:

While he's in the twilight of his career, Ibrahimovic netted 30 goals for Los Angeles Galaxy in Serie A last season. Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe thinks his influence will help others at the club too, most notably Krzysztof Piatek:

Sam Tighe @stighefootball

Not Zlatan's biggest fan and usually see the worst in his potential moves, but boy could Milan use him right now. Piatek needs an MOT and this team needs a touch of arrogance and aura up top. Zlatan is a good short-term answer.

If there's to be any positivity to come from the month of December, it's the continued strong performances of Theo Hernandez at left-back, who wasn't involved in the hammering at the hands of Atalanta.

The 22-year-old has provided a thrust and attacking incision out wide, netting in the wins over Parma and Bologna. Despite his tender age, the former Real Madrid man has been the standout performer for Milan in Serie A this season.