It’s about time AC Milan fans had something to smile about.
Without a Serie A title since 2011 the Italian giants were in danger of drifting away into a deep slumber.
At the centre of their recent awakening has been two new heroes who are following in the footsteps of two I Rossoneri greats.
Krzysztof Piatek and Lucas Paqueta have teleported Milan supporters back to the early/mid 2000s – a period in which the club were blessed with Andriy Shevchenko and Kaka.
The iconic duo of the clinical Ukrainian and technically gifted Brazilian helped to spearhead Milan’s domestic dominance and numerous European triumphs.
Individual talents like Shevchenko and Kaka are seldom easy to replace let alone the task of finding a duo that work so well in tandem together.
The special relationship shared by the pair is emphasised in the length of time it has taken Milan to replace their respective goals and creativity.
That long hunt might finally be over and with it the barren years at the San Siro hopefully at an end.
The initial performances of Piatek and Paqueta are giving Milan supporters hope of an imminent return to football’s summit.
The pair arrived in the January transfer window from Genoa and Flamengo respectively and have taken to life at the capital club like a couple of ducks to water. Quack quack.
Piatek was first into the pond and has left clubs across Europe ruing their ignorance towards a striker who is now just one goal behind Cristiano Ronaldo in the Serie A scoring charts.
The 23-year-old has seven goals in six appearances in all competitions for the San Siro club and equalled Oliver Bierhoff’s record of scoring in each of his first four league starts.
The Poland international’s cut-throat nature in front of goal has drawn comparisons with that of Shevchenko.
Piatek, just like his Slavic predecessor, makes up for his lack of pace with clever movement and an unrivalled one-on-one finishing ability.
His immediate impact was a much needed one for Milan with the inexperienced Patrick Cutrone and subpar Fabio Borini the club’s only other recognised strikers.
Every Batman needs a Robin and fellow new arrival Paqueta is quickly becoming Piatek’s right-hand man.
The 21-year-old’s sole assist to date in the famous red and black was for Piatek and it’s hoped their link up will reach a near-telepathic level.
Whereas a young Kaka had Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf and Gennaro Gattuso alongside him, Paqueta has had no such luxuries with Tiemoue Bakayoko and Franck Kessie.
A relatively inexperienced squad lead by the aforementioned Gattuso, who is still cutting his teeth in management, means there is a need for the young Brazilian to hit the ground running.
With just one goal to go with his solitary assist, Paqueta’s stats since arriving at the San Siro are not overly eye-catching.
The same can’t be said for the rest of his play.
The Brazilian is the epitome of a ‘bums off seats’ player and has already harvested the souls of numerous opponents since touching down in Europe.
With the exception of Suso, Milan supporters haven’t had a creative player to be as excited about as Paqueta.
The Brazilian’s flair is the ying to Piatek’s clinical yang and all the signs point towards a match made in heaven.
Juventus’ stranglehold on Serie A and a disappointing Europa League group stage exit makes the Coppa Italia Milan’s only chance of silverware this season.
Cup success in the coming months would be the perfect precursor to what Milan fans hope will be a trophy-laden period with Piatek and Paqueta the catalysts.
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Kepa Arrizabalaga is still refusing to leave the Wembley pitch a full 17 hours after the Carabao Cup finished. The Chelsea keeper ignored Maurizio Sarri’s demands that he was substituted for the penalty shooutout after suffering a bout of cramp twice during extra time. Even as the stewards were closing the stadium last night the Spaniard would not leave the Wembley turf. According to unofficial Chelsea insider Lee Satchell, Kepa kept insisting that he wasn’t injured to any steward or official that would listen inside the stadium, even after all the fans had left Wembley. Satchell said, “The stewards were all ready to leave and were telling Kepa that the lights were going off and he should go home, but the young lad just kept shouting ‘no estoy herido’, which I’m told means he wasn’t injured. “They tried to get Cesar Azpilicueta to get his countryman off the pitch so they could mow the lawn but the Chelsea captain just shrugged and walked off. “I had to stay with Kepa all night as he point-blank refused to leave the grass. He started referring to himself as the Chelsea manager and telling me he could drop Sarri for the next game if he wanted to.” As the Wembley officials entered the stadium this morning Kepa was still apparently still stalking around the six-yard box looking as if he was ready to come and collect a cross at a moment’s notice. “They told him to get off the grass so they could begin preparing it for the North London derby this weekend but Kepa just put his hand up to wave them off, then turned around and winked at me. “I spoke to Sarri and he was already trying to organise a loan move to Vitesse for Kepa but on hearing the news, the goalkeeper started clinging to the goalposts saying that this was now a protest and he would never leave Wembley. “All in all, it is a pretty normal weekend for us at Chelsea.”