Underperforming Milan is torn between Okafor and Jovic as injured Tomori is expected to return early
AC Milan will take on Fiorentina after the break and after claiming two points in four games, they cannot afford to drop more points. This means that Stefano Pioli’s selection will have to be spot on, otherwise, the Rossoneri could find themselves in a tough situation.
Since Olivier Giroud is suspended, and Rafael Leao is injured, the main focus will certainly be on the attack. Christian Pulisic is an excellent replacement for the Portuguese winger on the left flank, but the No.9 position is a big question mark for the manager.
Noah Okafor sounds like a no-brainer under the circumstances, but the international break has made the evaluation slightly more complex for Pioli. Luka Jovic has been at his disposal at Milanello and will have a lot more energy, but what is the right decision?
The Serbian striker arrived from Fiorentina this summer and he’s yet to find the back of the net for the Rossoneri. In addition to the latter, he has not impressed in the play when given the chance either, making life incredibly difficult above all for Giroud.
However, the feeling is that the goal is bound to come. There’s always a discussion about how many chances a player should be given, but considering Milan’s situation, there’s no doubt that Jovic will get more chances to
Giroud will not just miss the game against Fiorentina, but also the game against Frosinone which (hopefully) will come with a lot less pressure. If not against La Viola, his former club, then he should get the chance against the newly-promoted side.
A lot will depend on the next seven days. If Jovic can impress in training and show that his physical condition has improved massively, then Pioli could decide to give him the chance. It would certainly be special if he were to score his first goal for Milan against Fiorentina, where it didn’t end well for him.
Unlike Jovic, Okafor has actually done well for Milan, even if a lot more is still expected from him. Both of his goals this season came when he played as a No.9, scoring from inside the box. That alone is a big argument in favour of the Swiss international.
Furthermore, Fiorentina are not exactly a side that tend to sit back and defend against the big sides. They want to play their game and Milan have had a taste of this in the past against Vincenzo Italiano teams. Having a player like Okafor, with great speed and technique, could thus be very useful.
Okafor’s in-box abilities shouldn’t be underestimated either, as he has decent height and a strong build to his body. Having said that, though, it’s clear that he would be at his best with some space to run into. Being able to combine a lot with the wingers would be a key for him, no doubt.
The 23-year-old is currently on international duty with Switzerland. In short, his condition might not be the best upon returning to Milanello.
He will likely be back at the training ground on Wednesday or Thursday, with the final game scheduled for Tuesday evening. This means he won’t have a lot of time to prepare for the Fiorentina clash, but it might still be enough depending on his condition.
Not to mention that the game against Dortmund three days later is crucial. In case Leao can’t make it for that either, then having a fully-charged Okafor will be important. Giroud is not suspended for that game and the Swiss international could thus start on the left.
Meanwhile, Fikayo Tomori has, on Saturday afternoon, provided an update on his fitness after the defender set pulses racing across the Milan fanbase late on Friday.
Tomori was afforded a starting berth in England’s World Cup qualifying meeting with Malta, featuring on the left of Gareth Southgate’s backline.
The former Chelsea man, though, lasted just 45 minutes, before being hooked from proceedings. Ensuing reports pointed towards as much as having come owing to an injury, sparking major concern back at Milanello.
It will therefore no doubt come as a major source of relief for all associated with the Rossoneri to hear that Tomori, in fact, appears to be just fine.
Taking on his official Instagram account on Saturday, the 25-year-old responded to a fan, who questioned how his ankle was feeling.
And Tomori simply went on to assure that ‘everything is ok’: