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Higuain eyes 100th Serie A goal

Five Aside
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Sumeet Paul blog profile  By Sumeet Paul

Andrea Belotti would be the perfect cap to AC Milan's summer overhaul

AC Milan boss Vincenzo Montella hails the role the club's new owners have played in the transfer market.
Gab Marcotti reacts to Milan's additions of Bonucci and Biglia, and the FC crew debate whether they can win the Scudetto.

The summer of 2017 will hopefully go down in history for all the right reasons for AC Milan. Having spent around €200m on rebuilding the squad, the Rossoneri are just missing one more marquee addition in attack. With other options falling away, it would appear that Torino forward Andrea Belotti should be the man to fill the void.

Milan owner Yonghong Li and the new hierarchy have addressed key areas of the squad that have needed strengthening for years. The defence is revamped with Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Conti, Mateo Musacchio and Ricardo Rodriguez all arriving, while Lucas Biglia and Franck Kessie will bolster the midfield.

The latter department has been starved of real quality in particular, and coupled with Hakan Calhanoglu offering more creativity and technical quality to balance things out, Milan have brought in what was absolutely necessary.

While Fabio Borini is expected to act as depth when required, there has also been a marquee signing up front already this summer. Andre Silva has shown with both Porto and more recently with the Portuguese national team what a bright young talent he is, and many have tipped him to be a real success in Italy.

Importantly, the 21-year-old forward knows how to find the back of the net. However, it's the other attributes he brings to a team which make him a well-rounded player, and a fundamental piece in a side.

Whether it's his relentless tracking back and pressing of the opposition or his ability to drop off and create for others, he will be a vital signing for Vincenzo Montella but it's important not to place all the pressure on his young shoulders to score goals and link everything together.

That in turn has led to the ongoing saga over which striker Milan will sign to complete their transfer work. CEO Marco Fassone and sporting director Massimo Mirabelli have both hinted that there are targets who haven't been discussed by the media, but the same three names have been heavily linked with a move to Milan in recent weeks.

Two of that trio are now seemingly off the market. Borussia Dortmund have insisted that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is no longer for sale after their imposed deadline passed, while CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has even hit out at Milan for going public with their interest in the Gabon international.

That door now seems closed. As is the one leading to Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata. Chelsea have confirmed that they've agreed to terms with the Spanish giants over a transfer fee, and an official announcement for his signing is expected in the coming days.

Andrea Belotti would be Milan's 10th signing of the summer and the crown jewel of the lot.

Opinion would have been split on who best suited Milan and who would make the ideal partner for Silva if Montella adopted a two-man frontline, but ultimately the options are being crossed out and by all accounts, there are two names that remain.

The less popular option, albeit perhaps the more financially viable one, is Fiorentina's Nikola Kalinic. The 29-year-old has also been heavily linked with a move to Milan, and while he has his detractors, there's no doubting he boasts Serie A experience, a decent goalscoring record and he fits what Montella is looking for with his pace, movement and ability to link-up play.

However, it's simply not the signing that will really spark this side into life and resonate off the pitch with supporters. If a wide-reaching poll was held, good money would be placed on Belotti being the man who most of the Milan faithful now want at the club.

The 23-year-old is coming off the back of the most prolific season of his career to date, having scored 28 goals in 38 appearances in all competitions, while also providing eight assists. Add to that his suitability to play alongside Silva, or as a lone striker, and he fits the bill in terms of what Milan are looking for.

Off the pitch, it's another potential symbol for the club. Belotti is a self-confessed Milan fan, at least when he was younger and before his professional career began. He's also a young, Italian international who can add to the strong core of homegrown players that the Rossoneri already have.

There are certainly question marks over whether or not he can consistently produce at the top level, but there is a confidence that he can deliver when called upon. Belotti would be a major signing for countless reasons, and it seems as though all roads have now led Milan to him.

Negotiations will undoubtedly continue to prove to be tricky with Torino owner Urbano Cairo demanding a hefty fee for his most prized asset, but it's suggested that an agreement on personal terms is in place for Belotti. In turn, the focus now lies on reaching a compromise with the Granata to add the most exciting piece to the puzzle, or Milan may well have one more surprise for us yet.

Sumeet Paul covers AC Milan for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @SP_Calcio.

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