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FEATURE | What will Ricardo Rodriguez bring to AC Milan?

It appears that this transfer window, AC Milan mean business; not least because of their third shrewd acquisition of the summer. After managing to seal deals for defender Mateo Musacchio and midfielder Franck Kessie, much-vaunted VfL Wolfsburg left-back Ricardo Rodriguez has become the latest addition to Vincenzo Montella’s roster. With a vast array of abilities, which have made him one of the hottest properties in Europe over the last few years, the €17m price tag may prove to be a snip as the Rossoneri once again seek to reestablish themselves in the European elite.

But what can Rodriguez offer Montella and Milan? Primarily, he would be a significant improvement on their current left-back spot in a general sense. For a while, Milan have plodded along with the likes of Luca Antonelli and Leonel Vangioni as the incumbent left fullbacks. However, with someone of Rodriguez’s calibre, the Milan back line will look a lot more secure, particularly in the wake of their other defensive signing Musacchio. While it is unclear exactly how many more signings we can expect from Milan, the intent shown with the acquisition of Rodriguez cannot be understated.

As aforementioned, at just €17m Rodriguez represents rare value for money in an ever-inflating market. Despite Wolfsburg’s dreadful season, the Swiss international was still able to exhibit the best things about his game. While in general he looked more comfortable playing at left-back, Rodriguez was actually deployed in a central defensive capacity more often, where he still managed to reap some attacking rewards. Indeed, as the top assistant for Wolfsburg in the 2016/17 Bundesliga, two of his assists came from the centre-half position.

The 24-year-old’s attacking prowess is a large part of what makes him such an attractive prospect. A willing runner and a more-than-capable crosser of the ball, Rodriguez exhibits more or less every desired aspect of the modern fullback. Every aspect and more, perhaps, as Rodriguez’s impressive set-pieces are just another string to the new Milan man’s bow. As well as his technical abilities, however, Rodriguez also brings with him a wealth of domestic, European and international experience. Having been capped 45 times for Switzerland, a consistent starter in the Bundesliga and both Champions League and Europa League competition under his belt, Milan were hard-pressed to find a more impressive addition to their back line.

Some may look at his former club’s abysmal collapse in the Bundesliga last season as cause for concern. This, however, should not deter Milan fans from excitement — since joining, Rodriguez has been speaking to Milan TV and is making all the right noises as far as they are concerned; the Swiss international has vowed to show he is ‘worthy’ of playing for a club like Milan and is also eager to impress either as a left-back or a central defender in a back three. With this attitude to back up his ability, fans of the Rossoneri can already look forward to challenging for major honours if they keep up this level of recruitment.

 

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