Despite being hailed the new Kaka and Andriy Shevchenko, AC Milan legend Rui Costa believes Lucas Paqueta and Krzysztof Piatek are not quite there yet.
The dynamic duo joined the Rossoneri in January and have made an exceptionally promising start to life at the San Siro.
Could pair become the new Kaka and Shevchenko? Five key things to know…
- Paqueta and Piatek both joined Milan for around £35m each from Flamengo and Genoa respectively in January.
- Since signing, Piatek has scored eight goals in 11 matches.
- Paqueta meanwhile has been a instrumental cog in Gennaro Gattuso’s midfield.
- Their exploits have helped Milan climb to fourth in the Serie A table as well as reaching a Coppa Italia semi-final.
- Only Fabio Quagliarella (21) has scored more Serie A goals than Piatek (19) this season.
Costa – who made 192 appearances for Milan between 2001 and 2006 – now operates as a sporting director for Benfica and he has heaped praise on Paqueta, but insists football may never see a player of Kaka’s level again.
Speaking to reporters, he said: “He’ll be himself, as he should be. Kaka was a No 10, but he also had power that I’ve rarely seen in a No 10 and may never see again.
“He was out of the ordinary. He was Kaka. And Paqueta is Paqueta: I’ve seen him play as a central midfielder.
“Technically he’s very strong. He has a wonderful, velvety left foot.”
The Portuguese then turned his attention to Piatek, who has slotted in seamlessly to his new surroundings in Milan, and while the former playmaker praised the Poland international for his quick transition, he was again quick to play down comparisons with another of his former teammates.
He added: “I know him less than Paqueta, but needless to say he’s a great striker.
“It seems like he’s been there for a lifetime. He’s been impressive. But even in this case, making comparisons is useless.
“Piatek isn’t Sheva or anyone else, but he’s brought different solutions to Milan’s attack and solved many problems.
“I was lucky enough to play with great strikers and I can say that playing with them calms your nerves.
“You knew that in Sheva, Kaka or Inzaghi, you had teammates who, sooner or later, would settle a game because one of them would score.
“Piatek isn’t Sheva or Inzaghi, but he scores goals and solves problems.”
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Piatek in race for Capocannoniere
Piatek is currently in strong contention to clinch the coveted Capocannoniere award for most Serie A goals across one season.
At present, the 23-year-old is joint-second in the race with 19 goals, sitting alongside Duvan Zapata of Atalanta and Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus.
Leading the charge is veteran striker Fabio Quagliarella of Sampdoria, who has netted 21 goals, all at the age of 36 this season.
Well, should Piatek want to follow in the footsteps of Shevchenko then he will need to clinch the accolade at least twice in his career, as the Ukrainian famously scored the most goals across the 1999/2000 and 2003/04 seasons respectively.
Upon joining Milan at the end of January, Piatek had netted 13 goals in 19 games, and has since scored six goals in nine matches.