Krzysztof Piatek came to the San Siro with real fanfare. His signing was seen as a sign of intent from a struggling club that was in need of goals. The Pole came and made an instant impact, with his gunslinger celebration becoming a sign of revival.
On his arrival, Piatek’s quality shone through. He found the back of the net eight times in his first 11 games after arriving from Genoa. He would score once and assist once in the rest of the campaign, as Milan could not finish inside the top four under Rino Gattuso.
What the rossoneri had under Rino was a system. There was a style of play. The players knew how to approach every game, because of that. They had a consistent system and Piatek had service. But Gattuso left the club in the summer and in came Marco Giampaolo from Sampdoria. Italian football casino expert Josefin Bjorklund of BetSafe Casino was sure Giampaolo would get the best put of Piatek saying, “we’ve seen loads of money put on him finishing top scorer in Serie A this season given the attacking football his new coach plays.”
The Italian had a possession-based system that Milan had hardly used before. Piatek lost his form, as there was a lack of service and the creative players never got going. It was miles different from the Gattuso era. There was a system, but the players could not buy into it and Giampaolo was always going to take time to get it working.
When Piatek was out of form, Giampaolo did bring on Rafael Leao. As he did against Fiorentina, when Leao got a goal for himself in consolation. Piatek was on the bench for Giampaolo’s last game- one that Milan did win 2-1.
So far this season, the former Genoa star has scored only one goal from open. That came in Stefano Pioli’s first game in-charge against Lecce. He has scored two spot-kicks, despite having taken 2.9 shots per game- more than 2.3 from last season.
It is a decline- a very stark and sharp one. Even though Milan have, on paper, played as many key passes per game this season than they did last season- 11.9. Piatek seems short of confidence and because of that, he looks lax and not as willing as he was. He is a mere shadow of himself from last season.
But the problems extend far beyond that. Milan are slowly evolving a system under Pioli, as evident from their win over Parma. But the manner in which they did the Piatek transfer was very different.
The Poland international had joined Genoa in the summer of 2018- like Christian Kouame. He had played only half a season before Milan got him. In those 19 games he had played, Piatek did score 13 times in 19 outings. That’s a very impressive number for anyone.
But the time span for doing so well was about six months. There was always going to be a risk when a club signs a player on the basis of how well he has done in six months. Piatek came to San Siro with confidence from the Genoa days. He came in and made instant impact.
It shows that Piatek is a confidence player. He had the burden of being the Piatek from last season when the club was struggling for an identity under Giampaolo and after his sacking. Since he hadn’t scored goals, it is natural for a player to feel more pressure than usual. And not all of them can cope up.
Which is why he is snapping at chances. And that is why he has taken 0.7 shots from outside the box. That is well more than 0.2 from last season. He is desperate to score even when he can’t score from that position. The lack of confidence is leading him to not time headers well- like what happened against Juventus.
And yes, it isn’t a promising situation. But Milan have to look at the business they did. They signed a player who was in his first season in Italy. There was no burden for him to succeed early on. But now, there is. There is immense pressure, let alone burden. The club got Piatek on the basis of a few months of him playing well.
They spent €35 million on him– a huge fee for them. It is a huge gamble and heaped pressure onto the player.
They can’t afford to let the player go because of that fee. Some of the blame lies with them- a lot of it, in fact. It worked in the short-term, but isn’t working out in the long-term. Piatek needs his confidence back and the club has to do something to help him get it back.