Carlos Bacca adding to his own troubles as Milan should consider sale
In recent weeks, the debate over who should start up front for AC Milan has predominantly revolved around form. Carlos Bacca hasn't scored since the beginning of October, while in contrast Gianluca Lapadula has been knocking on the door and making life difficult for his teammate.
The reasons behind Bacca's goal-drought are well known to Milan fans as his overall game isn't particularly suited to the style of play under Vincenzo Montella. While his predatory skills in the box are world-class and there's no denying his ability, his limitations often leave him isolated and anonymous.
Contrast that with Lapadula's all-action approach, ability to drop deep and link-up play as well as offer that clinical edge in the final third, as seen with his brace against Empoli last weekend. The momentum has certainly swung in favour of the former Pescara striker.
However, Bacca gave another reason for Milan supporters to be frustrated with him this past weekend. The Colombian international was ruled out with injury and, as confirmed by Montella, was given the weekend off.
Instead of travelling to Empoli to support his teammates or even remain in Milan, the 30-year-old decided to visit his former club Sevilla. In his defence, there was no obligation to travel with the squad and Montella gave him the freedom to do as he pleased, but it was a terrible decision.
Bacca also attended a training session with the Sevilla squad, as confirmed on their official Twitter account, and tried to defend himself from criticism by insisting that he was given time off and opted to visit some friends.
Meanwhile, Sevilla boss Jorge Sampaoli has since revealed that the prolific striker isn't enjoying himself in Milan. Given that the La Liga outfit are one of the clubs that Bacca has been linked with in recent months, it's an entirely ridiculous situation that has unsurprisingly reflected very badly on the player.
Unless it's a serious injury that required attention from the medical staff or complete rest, there was no excuse for Bacca not to be in Tuscany. If he was healthy enough to travel to Spain, then he could have made the trip to watch his current teammates in action.
It suggests a lack of commitment to the club, and is a smack in the face of those who defend him.
To add to his troubles, Lapadula has now made it very difficult for Bacca to win his place back in the side. The 26-year-old produced an impressive performance in the 4-1 win on Saturday night and took his tally to three goals in eight appearances in limited minutes.
As a result, the momentum is firmly behind him and with his confidence sky-high and as the goals continue to come, there is no reason why Montella shouldn't start him up front against Crotone this weekend.
This isn't the first time Bacca has done something controversial which has left supporters questioning his commitment. Whether it's his reaction to being substituted (which can be partly forgiven as it merely shows a desire to play), to not celebrating under the Curva Sud with his teammates last month, the incidents are tallying up.
So this all raises a serious question. Should Milan sell Bacca? There are several question marks over what will come out of the shareholders meeting scheduled for Dec. 13 in Milan, as there is uncertainty over the club's takeover by Sino-Europe Sports again this week.
In the event that that there is another delay or a new deposit isn't made before the sale is completed in January, there is the possibility that Bacca, one of the more high-value assets in this Milan squad, could be sold in the New Year in order to fund Milan's transfer business.
It may well be a little too early to crown Lapadula as the new first-choice striker at the San Siro, but he's shown enough to suggest that he's ready to step up and deliver.
If he continues his current form, and with Bacca now doing significant damage to his own reputation with many Milan fans, perhaps a parting of ways is inevitable.
It will be disappointing to see a top-class player leave the club, but Montella is building something with the Rossoneri. In order for it to work he needs committed and tactically versatile players at his disposal and from what we've seen on the whole so far this season, Bacca doesn't fit the bill.
Sumeet Paul covers AC Milan for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @SP_Calcio.