The heir to Cristiano Ronaldo? AC Milan new boy Andre Silva’s playing style explained

The heir to Cristiano Ronaldo? AC Milan new boy Andre Silva’s playing style explained

AC Milan are on a mission to become a major force in Italian and European football once more if their 2017 summer transfer business is anything to go by.

The Rossoneri have moved quickly to bolster their defence with the signings of Mateo Musacchio and Ricardo Rodriguez from Villarreal and Wolfsburg respectively with Atalanta’s Franck Kessie joining (initially on loan) strengthening the midfield.

Arguably their most exciting addition so far, though, can be found in attack in the form of 21-year-old Portugal international Andre Silva who has joined for approximately £35m from FC Porto. That fee makes him the second most expensive signing in Milan’s history, following on from another Portuguese superstar, Manuel Rui Costa.

Following a few seasons in Porto’s B Team in the Portuguese lower leagues, Andre Silva emerged as Porto’s first-choice striker in 2016-17 ending the campaign with 21 goals in 44 matches in all competitions including four in eight in the Champions League.

His form at club level has been replicated on the international stage too with his first eight senior outings for the Portuguese senior team yielding seven goals – form that has drawn the praise of none other than Portugal’s all-time leading scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo said of his international colleague: “When I retire, Portugal will be in good hands because they have already found a great striker: Andre Silva.”

Quite the endorsement for Silva given all that Ronaldo has achieved in the game but what kind of striker can Milan fans expect to see leading the line at San Siro next season?

A modern day poacher

Usefully for a striker, Silva’s key strength is his goalscoring prowess – like all the great forwards, he comes alive inside the penalty area.

For a player so young, Silva’s anticipation is great, he seems to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time. To emphasise that point, all 20 of his Primeira Liga and Champions League goals last season came from inside in the confines of the penalty area and many of those were in the six-yard box.

While he is capable of scoring the odd spectacular goal, the classic Silva strike is a predatory finish close to the goal, similar to the manner in which the legendary Flippo Inzaghi struck most of his goals for Milan.

Silva’s goals were nicely spread out last season too, with eight coming from his favoured right and four apiece from his left and head in the Primeira Liga last season, showing that he is already a well-rounded finisher. If he can add goals from outside the area to his repertoire he’ll take some stopping.

A shot accuracy rate of 53% is reasonable but could do with improvement next term as could a conversion rate of 19.3%. It is important to remember, though, that Silva has only played top-flight football for over a year and he is bound to sharpen his finishing skills over the next few years.

A useful target man

Standing at 6’1 tall and blessed with a strong physique, Silva is adept at playing on his own as a target man, allowing his teammates a pivot from which to build attacks around.

He has the strength to back into and hold off opposition centre-backs and is useful in the air too, winning 41 aerial duels in the Primeira Liga last season.

Rather than holding a static fixed position at the point of the attack, though, Silva likes to float around across the final third of the pitch, occupying spaces out wide to drag defenders out of position.

Silva’s movement, both inside the area and outside of it, is excellent and the likes of Suso and Giacomo Bonaventura should enjoy playing with him next season.

Awareness of teammates

While his propensity to find himself in the right place at the right time is Inzaghi-esque, Silva is more rounded and less individualistic than the Italian goal machine.

He has an acute awareness of where his teammates are, supplying the third-highest number of chances (35) in Porto’s squad last season which led to five assists.

Overall, Silva is the perfect modern day striker, combining ruthlessness in front of goal with clever movement and intelligent play and he will be a huge asset for Milan next season and beyond.