Milan San Siro

AC Milan are in need of winter recruitments. While that need may not be as intense as it is for their rivals Inter, they need some moves to get their European challenge in the league back on track. While the striker position does need strengthening, the midfield could do with some creative additions too.

Recent reports claiming that Milan have turned down the chance to sign Carles Alena have emerged in recent hours. Barcelona were willing to let the youngster leave on a loan deal, the idea being to help the player get more first-team football. Despite being handed the chance to get the midfielder, Milan have made it clear that they have no interest.

Alena has been falling short of game time at the Nou Camp this season. He did start in their Champions League game against Inter, but it was a rather dead-rubber clash. The 21-year-old has made only four starts in all competitions this season. The Inter game was his only appearance in the Champions League, having come on from the bench twice in the La Liga.

This is very much like last season when he made only seven starts in all competitions for the club, and coming on from the bench 13 times in all competitions. He scored twice in the La Liga, playing either in an attacking midfield role or on the left of the midfield in a 4-4-2 shape. This season, all his appearances have come from central midfield, with Ernesto Valverde now sticking to a 4-3-3 shape.

At the age of 21, it isn’t really smooth sailing for the youngster. He should be playing more than he is. For someone of his age, playing regular football is much more necessary than usual – it is a bottleneck age and not playing more often could stall his career. Perhaps, that is the idea behind sending him out on loan.

But for Milan, a midfielder isn’t quite a priority. Their pursuit of Zlatan Ibrahimovic shows what they need up front. They have found the back of the net only 16 times in the Serie A this season- the fifth lowest in the competition. For a club like Milan, that isn’t a pretty sight at all. This is one of the reasons many bookmakers are pricing Milan out of qualifying for the Champions League next season – and you can learn more here about that.

Being the attacking midfielder that Alena is, there might not be a readymade spot for him in the side. Giacomo Bonaventura’s resurgence has been key to Milan’s recent good form. He has been playing in an attacking role in the midfield of a 4-3-3, scoring twice in the last four games.

Rade Krunic, the summer signing from Empoli, has been doing quite the same too. The Bosnian is yet to score, but he has brought that attacking ability in midfield. He has played six times in the Serie A, playing one key pass and completing 1.7 dribbles per game too. Those are good numbers and something that Krunic can take forward.

Hakan Calhanoglu is playing on the left under Stefano Pioli, nut he can play in that Bonaventura role too. In that sense, a player like Alena won’t help himself with a move to the San Siro. He will not get regular first-team football and playing second or third fiddle to more experienced players wouldn’t be too good for his career currently.

With Real Betis currently also interested in him, that could be the place for him to go. Milan need attacking might in the second half of the season, but they need it up front. Alena won’t be a realistic option for them. It will harm both parties and Milan are right to reject Barca’s offer.