When Giacomo “Jack” Bonaventura arrived to Milan last season on the final day of the summer mercato, it was a joyous moment for all parties involved: the player, the club, and the fans. According to his agent, Jack was in tears as he signed the contract showing how much desire and passion he had to play for a big club such as Milan. The Italian international was also quoted saying the following a few days after he signed with Milan, via Milanello:
“I had been waiting for a long time for the opportunity to play for such a big club like Milan. I was really happy when I signed the contract with Milan. It’s a dream come true. I promise the Milan fans that I will always give my best just like I have always done. Forza Milan!”
The signing of Bonaventura left many Milanisti, including myself, very excited to see him play in Rossoneri colors. Under former Milan coach, Filippo Inzaghi, the former Atalanta youth was impressive throughout the season. He was mostly deployed in central midfield where his work rate was second to none and his creativity ability contributed to Milan’s attack. His most comfortable position was at left wing, where he played for most of the second part of the season due to the injuries of Stephan El Shaarawy. His consistency still showed even playing in two different roles throughout the season. In fact, he was arguably one of our most consistent players last season, scoring 7 goals and earning four assists in his debut season with Milan, via WhoScored.com. The dedication he showed each week when called upon made him a crucial part to Inzaghi’s team last season. Giacomo’s good form would even earn him a call up to the Azzurri this past Spring. At the end of Milan’s 2014-2015 Serie A campaign, Bonaventura would finish the season out strong scoring 2 goals against his former club, Atalanta.
In pre-season, Jack hasn’t looked like the same player as he was last season for Milan. His passing hasn’t been as pinpoint or accurate and he’s been very wasteful in front of goal, where he was normally on target whenever he had a chance in front of goal last season. In Milan’s first game of the new season, this bad form continued as he failed to make an impact in Milan’s 2-0 loss to Fiorentina. He missed a great chance when he was right in front of goal and his header bounced off the ground and over the crossbar. If he would have scored that chance, it could have been an entirely different outcome for Milan in their season opener, but the blame is not all on Bonaventura though as Milan went down to ten men shortly after and it went downhill from there.
In the match against Fiorentina and for most of pre-season once again, Bonaventura has been used mostly as a central midfielder under new Milan coach, Siniša Mihajlović. This seems to be the position Jack will be playing in for most of the season, but he is also able to play behind the strikers in the trequartista role if needed. With Milan reportedly looking for a big name signing (or two) for the midfield before the mercato closes, one has to wonder: what is Bonaventura’s role in this squad should additional players arrive? Right now, he has a starting spot in one of the central midfield positions, but will he still have his spot once this potential new signing arrives? My guess is it would depend on who Mihajlović prefers for that last central midfield spot between Giacomo Bonaventura or Andrea Bertolacci. Also waiting to take the last spot in the midfield are Andrea Poli and even Jose Mauri. Plenty of competition exists for one spot in the midfield and as a result, we should expect just a little extra from the players involved.
If Jack wants to continue having a starting role, he will have to improve and make it difficult for Mihajlović to choose one of many options he will have at his disposal in central midfield. At the trequartista position, it’s difficult to see him starting ahead of Keisuke Honda and Jérémy Menez, whom both seem to be the main contenders this season for the crucial role behind the strikers. His best chance to start each week is to show the same quality and consistency he showed last season when he was playing as a central midfielder under Filippo Inzaghi, but how he trains will be crucial to him getting quality minutes as well.
For Bonaventura, I, like many other Milanisti, hope he can raise his game and find the great form he once had for us throughout most of last season. The quality, talent, effort and energy for him to do so are there. Now, he must take the chances he is given and prove to Mihajlović why he should be favored to start each week. If he does, Milan will benefit greatly this season.
Bonaventura is a great player to have on any squad because of how versatile he is and how dedicated he is to sacrificing himself for the team. His positioning flexibility makes him more valuable as the season goes on and playing at his best will help us come that much closer to achieving this season’s objective, which is to qualify for European competition.