AC Milan haven’t been best known for signing players in recent years. Ever since Massimiliano Allegri left, they’ve made multiple wrong decisions in the transfer market. The most prominent one came in the summer of 2017, when spending high didn’t lead to too many benefits. But this past summer was a one they could be proud of. Ante Rebic is one signing that won’t let them down.
It isn’t just Rebic though. The club also signed Ismael Bennacer, who has been one of the best players this season. Theo Hernandez has been a big success and Rafael Leao has shown signs of promise. But the manner in which Rebic has come alive in recent weeks has shown what a good signing he has been.
During his time at Eintracht Frankfurt, Rebic had formed one of the most dangerous trios in European football. Him, Luka Jovic and Sebastien Haller earned the spotlight multiple times under Adi Hutter. Rebic came to the rossoneri in a swap deal for Andre Silva, while Jovic and Haller themselves got transfers of their own.
For a player who had contributed to 16 goals in all competitions last season, big things were expected. But the Croat couldn’t get enough gametime early on under Stefano Pioli or Marco Giampaolo. He had to take a while to get into the grove and play Serie A football again.
There was a point around the halfway of the season when many thought Rebic was already a ‘flop’ signing. There was talk of him returning to the Eagles in January. But perhaps, no one expected a turnaround like what exactly has gone on. Within the space of a month, Rebic is looking like one of the most important players in the rossoneri side.
In a game that could’ve gone either way, Rebic came on in the second-half against Udinese. Milan were 1-0 at halftime, thanks to a Donnarumma error. But within two minutes of coming on, Rebic got the equaliser. He also went on to get a stoppage-time winner and sparked not just his revival, but Milan’s revival.
Against Brescia away from home, Rebic got the scoresheet again and bagged a decisive goal in a 1-0 win. He couldn’t be difference-maker against Verona, but he got a huge goal in the Milan derby as well.
He’s been crucial in the Coppa Italia as well. He got a vital assist in a 4-2 win over Torino in extra-time and made it 1-0 against Juventus in the semi-final before Cristiano Ronaldo got a stoppage-time penalty.
A lot of it can be down to the change in the shape. Before the club’s win over Cagliari, Milan were playing a 4-3-3 shape. But the change to the 4-4-2 sees Rebic play on the left side. He played up front against Brescia and got the goal- a sign that he’s more than just about playing on the left.
It does seem tough to explain what the change has been down to though. But Rebic is just getting more time on the pitch than he did before. Before the current spell, he had made only two starts in the Serie A- one came against Napoli and the other came against Lazio.
In a recent interview that he gave to Sportske Novosti, he said: “At the beginning of the season we did not expect this situation, but with the passage of time things are improving. The team is young and of quality, it takes time to start giving my best. But I’m optimistic,”
There was no real start in a game against a smaller club where he could potentially score and get some confidence. The win over Udinese gave him 45 minutes and he did the job. He got the confidence back and is now riding on it in full swing.
And it could easily guarantee him a regular spot in the rest of the season. He’s got the club about six points on his own and for a club that wants European football next season, that can be crucial come the end of the season.