In recent weeks, Milan fans have not had too many positives. The current season hasn’t been the best one by any means. If there’s anything that has made them happy, then it is the sight of a fit Giacomo Bonaventura take to the pitch regularly.
The Italian was on the scoresheet in Milan’s recent 1-1 draw against Napoli. It was a wonderful moment for a man who has been through a lot in recent years. In what was his second start of the season, Bonaventura went onto show how he’s still a very useful player.
It was his first goal in over a year. His last goal came in Milan’s 3-1 win over Chievo last season. A familiar situation arose with injuries blighting his season. Knee problems kept the 30-year-old out of action for the remainder of the season.
It has been a constant problem for the former Atalanta man. He has suffered eight injuries since the start of the 2015-16 season, missing 66 games as a result – almost two seasons. It is in stark contrast to how he missed only eight games to injury at Bergamo in four seasons.
Football has been unfair to Jack – as he is affectionately known among the Milan faithful. For a player who had arrived with immense promise at the age of 25, things could have been so different. But it is fair to say that injuries have had a crippling effect on Bonaventura.
Perhaps, that is why the goal against the Partenopei was special. It was a shot at redemption and Bonaventura redeemed himself. Now back fit and playing, there is every chance he plays a key role for the Rossoneri this season. He has a serenity about how he plays. It is almost like he can zone himself out in a world of his own when everything around him is falling apart.
Recently, Marco Giampolo praised Bonaventura. It just defines what sort of player Bonaventura is. He has the ability to read the game and has the maturity to execute it. Giampaolo told reporters (via SempreMilan):
“He has intuitions; he sees the game.”
The criticism that Suso and Hakan Çalhanoğlu take is often justified. Çalhanoğlu’s best position is still up for debate and Suso hasn’t lived up to the hype he garnered at the start of last season. Bonaventura, despite not playing much over the years, is still respected by Milan fans. His recent goal gave them another reason.
Bonaventura has scored as many goals as Suso this season– only one less than Çalhanoğlu. Rafael Leao is still settling in, but Bonaventura has found the back of the net as many times as him. Not just that, he has also scored as many goals from open play as Krzysztof Piatek.
More than that goals, it is his experience that is vital. The lack of leaders at Milan in recent months has not been promising. The players have been accused of dropping shoulders at wrong times, making individual errors and slipping up too casually.
12 of the 17 goals Milan have let have come in the second half. Individual errors cost them against Roma, while Pepe Reina’s penalty save denied them a disaster in Genoa. It’s also worth noting how young this Milan team is. Pioli recently fielded a side with an average age of 23.6. Marco Giampaolo did the same during his short tenure.
There is clearly a need for experience. Reina is on usually on the bench unless another youngster in Gianluigi Donnarumma isn’t out. There isn’t someone with a winners mentality and that is one reason why the club is pursuing the signature of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
It isn’t to say that Ibrahimovic shouldn’t be brought in. Bonaventura could present what Milan need- the ability to prove detractors wrong and be that harbinger of success in dark times. It is characters like him who need to take charge and take the Rossoneri forward.