Pioli considers adapting winger as central midfielder

Pioli has to deal with the absence of Kessie and Bennacer for one month and he’s considering alternative solutions.

For around one month Stefano Pioli will have to do without the services of Ismael Bennacer, Franck Kessie and Fode Ballo-Toure. The trio are on international duty with the respective national teams playing in the African Cup. However, the absence of the first two is a big problem for the Italian coach.

Franck Kessie has been a regular starter so far alongside Sandro Tonali while Ismael Bennacer has been Pioli’s number one alternative on every occasion. With only Bakayoko and Rade Kunic as options, Pioli is considering adapting other players in the central midfielder role.

As expected the Italian coach mentioned the names of Davide Calabria and Alessandro Florenzi as options. Both players have played as central midfielders in case of emergency with Calabria even scoring as midfielder against Juventus. However, the Italian coach mentioned a surprising third name.

In today’s pre-match press conference, Pioli declared that it may be Alexis Saelemaekers ultimately replacing Kessie in the starting eleven. The Belgium international has occupied every role on the right wing with Rossoneri but never as central midfielder.

The 22-year-old is a technically gifted player that moves a lot on the pitch. Pioli believes Saelemaekers has the necessary requirements to excel in a more central position, although only for a limited time until Bennacer and Kessie are again available.

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