August 20, 2022

AC Milan have already been linked with an abundance of players despite the fact that the summer transfer market is still in its infancy, and one of the hottest topics is the centre-back role.

Just like during the January transfer window when no one arrived to fill the void left by Simon Kjaer’s long injury, it seems to be a battle between two players to become the latest addition to the Rossoneri’s full-back: Lille’s Sven Botman and Gleison Bremer. from Torino.

In recent weeks and even months, it has emerged that Botman will travel to Italy for medicals and the signing of his contract before joining Milan, but the inclusion of new Premier League competition has complicated matters. things.

Subsequently, the idea of ​​Bremer being an alternate target emerged from several reliable sources, causing a mixed reaction among fans. However, that might not be such a bad thing.

It must first be assumed that Botman is indeed the first choice of Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara and has been since the winter, but he risks becoming unattainable because English clubs – in particular Newcastle United – have a power of much larger purchase than a gift.

It is therefore likely that they will try to sign the Dutchman all the way, but as any competent administrator would do, they must have alternatives lined up that they are ready to pounce on if no progress is made.

There’s reason to be very calm and content if Milan decides to go full-on for the Brazilian. Of course, there is a lot of work in Lille’s favor, such as the fact that he has Champions League experience, that he is four years younger, that he has won a national league title and that he already has a relationship with Mike Maignan, but there are factors that point to Bremer being a very suitable candidate.

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Firstly, the 25-year-old is closing in on 100 league appearances for Torino (he’s currently on 98), which shows he’s a centre-back who knows the league very well, compared to Botman who has played at Ajax. and now Lille.

If Milan has had a lot of success with recruits from abroad and in particular from Ligue 1 (see Leao, Kalulu and Maignan), there is also an advantage in opting for a player who has already adapted to his environment and Serie A style.

The Rossoneri have faced Bremer on several occasions and he is a very tough client. Olivier Giroud was instrumental in winning the Scudetto by scoring in many big games, and even him called the former Atletico Miniero man a ‘great defender’ after their fight. He was also voted Serie A’s best defender for 2021-22.

On top of that, there’s another ‘domestic’ element to consider: signing Bremer would take Inter’s top defensive target off the market, forcing them to change strategy at a time when there’s a lot of confusion surrounding of their financial situation.

Cost

There is also an economic factor to consider when comparing the two targets. With the arrival of Newcastle and possibly other English clubs on the scene, Botman will likely cost between €35m and €40m.

It would of course be a statement investment if Milan decided to pay the asking price and fulfill the player’s dream of wearing the Rossoneri shirt, but at the same time it would obviously eat up more of the available summer budget.

Bremer’s asking price is around €25m according to sources like MilanNews. Not only would it cost at least 10 million euros less than Botman, but it is also possible that he accepts a lower salary which could compensate for not benefiting from the tax relief scheme of the growth decree that would benefit from the Lille.

Additionally, Bremer’s price could be lowered with counterparts no longer deemed essential to the project, with names like Tommaso Pobega (although he seems destined to stay), Rade Krunic and Matteo Gabbia coming to mind. .

Even a preferential route for loans like Lorenzo Colombo and Marko Lazetic could help craft a cheaper deal on the cash side for the Diavolo, saving money to spend elsewhere and bolster the attack.

Characteristics

Our writer Rajath Kumar did an excellent analysis in January on whether Botman would actually be a good fit for Milan and their new way of playing under Pioli, which gradually became more aggressive and proactive from the back.

There is actually data to suggest that Bremer is a more natural player and more suited to playing a high line like Milan did with the Tomori-Kalulu pairing, which facilitates the whole pressure mechanism that worked so well. in the title win.

Comparing the pair’s stats in their respective 2021-22 league campaigns (via WhoScored), Bremer tops in tackles per 90 minutes (1.5-1) and interceptions (3.2-1), this which tends to suggest he’s a more proactive defender.

Botman, on the other hand, made more clearances (4.5-4) and blocks (0.8-0.7) although there wasn’t as big of a margin in those categories, and they indicate more of a ‘wait and cover’ approach to the centre-back role. .

Botman seems to be a better passer of the ball as he averages more passes per game (60.7-40.3) and higher completion percentage (88.1%-81.6%) compared in Bremer, as well as longer bullets (4.1 to 2.6).

Milan already have good defenders playing the ball, and while having more is never a bad thing, it’s worth remembering how many times centre-backs have parted ways in Pioli’s system to allow a midfielder to go deep and distribute, so it’s probably not essential.

Neither are particularly quick when it comes to recovery rate unlike Tomori and Kalulu, although Bremer does hold a clear advantage in top speed and acceleration which can come through the Pioli’s head.

One thing is certain: if Milan end up with either duo, they will have signed a fantastic defender with all the tools to succeed at a club like Milan. Sometimes missing a prime target isn’t the end of the world – after all, we learned that when Tomori appeared after Simakan disappeared.