Many AC Milan fans surely didn’t like the sight of Patrick Cutrone leaving the club. The young Italian, who left for Wolves, was spotted wearing a Rossoneri jersey when he was leaving the Milan airport to fly to England. It was perhaps a reflection of how much Cutrone loves his former club.
As of today, Cutrone has made only three starts in the Premier League. In total, he has made 18 appearances in all competitions. His Premier League goal account stands at one, while his League Cup account is at one too.
He never meant to be a regular starter at the Molineux Stadium anyway. Considering how well Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez have performed, Cutrone was always going to take a while to outjump them in the pecking order.
If there’s someone who has come off worse in this break-off, then it is probably Milan. The Rossoneri have scored only 11 goals in the Serie A this season – sixth-lowest so far and as many goals as Torino.
Krzysztof Piatek is the club’s highest scorer so far this season, scoring three goals. What makes the situation even grimmer is that two out those three goals came from the penalty spot.
Goals are a secondary problem for the club though. They sacked Marco Giampaolo just months after signing him from Sampdoria. He wasn’t given the time when he was trying to get the players to play his own complex way. They went into reset mode and are now left with Stefano Pioli.
The former Fiorentina and Lazio boss hasn’t done much better either. Milan have picked up only four points from their four games under Pioli.
There is a lack of system. But that too, is secondary. The current batch of players has been accused of having a weak mentality. They make individual errors – like how they gifted Roma two goals two weeks ago.
This lack of a strong mentality can be typified by the fact that seven of their goals this season in Serie A have come in the second half. Against Torino, they folded up despite being 1-0 up. Against Fiorentina, Giampaolo’s side gave up after going 2-0 down. Away to Roma, they conceded minutes after scoring an equaliser.
Against Lazio recently, they had it level at 1-1. But conceded in the last ten minutes. They nearly slipped up against Genoa. If not for a stoppage-time penalty save by Pepe Reina, the second-half goals tally should have been up to 12.
Cutrone was never known for this weak mentality. His love for Milan made him graft and work his socks off. Former manager Rino Gattuso loved this part of his game. He once said (via Football Italia)
“Cutrone lives for the goal, he’s got fire in his veins and I’m happy for him and He even wiped out that cliché about him not doing well from the start. He has to keep going like this, as he can do so much better.”
Milan miss that ‘fire in his veins’. They miss characters who will anything for the club and Cutrone would do just that. Even when he did not score, Cutrone worked very hard on the pitch. That is what Gattuso saw.
That is what Milan fans want to see. They don’t necessarily want to win every game. They want their players to put on a proper fight in every game.
While the club does miss Cutrone’s passion, he was never a prolific goalscorer. During his time with the club’s first-team, the 21-year-old scored only 27 goals in all competitions. Those aren’t the number of goals that could make a huge difference in the context of one season.
Rafael Leao, 20, came in as a potential replacement. The Portuguese is a quicker player who likes to take defenders on. He has been one of the few positives in what has been a dull season. The former Lille man has already scored once.
Warriors like Cutrone are tough to find in football. Teams can find goalscorers or players with pace like Leao. But they can’t always find a character like Cutrone – who loves the club more than anyone else in that dressing room. And at this point, the Rossoneri miss his spirit and fire.