Villarreal lost key star Samu Chukwueze to AC Milan during the summer window, but how is the former Yellows favourite getting on in his new surroundings? We spoke to Sempre Milan editor Oli Fisher to find out.
Chukwueze enjoyed a successful and lasting spell in Castellon, winning the Europa League and becoming an undroppable player across recent years. But amid an uneasy contract situation, he was sold to Milan in the summer, finally embarking upon the big challenge every Villarreal fan knew would arrive at some point.
The 24-year-old arrived at San Siro with big expectations, but he has only managed one goal and one assist in 12 games across all competitions. Though, stats do not tell the full story, and so we asked Milan expert Oli Fisher for the lowdown.
“It would be fair and accurate to describe Samuel Chukwueze’s start to life at Milan as difficult, but with some recent shoots of recovery that are very encouraging,” Oli told us.
“There was a lot of excitement surrounding his arrival given he was the most expensive of the 10 summer signings Milan made, at €20m plus €8m in bonuses, and rightly so given what we had seen of him in LaLiga.
“The idea among the fanbase is that he would become our ‘Leao on the right’ – i.e. a winger who is built around dribbling, end product and excelling in space – but what we have seen of him so far hasn’t really matched that.
“For starters, the fact Christian Pulisic arrived earlier in the summer and played nearly all of preseason had him in the XI for the first few games, and he scored a few important goals early on to nail down the RW spot.
“Then, as we entered a demanding run of games where rotation would be necessary, Chukwueze suffered a muscle injury on international duty. We’d only seen promising glimpses prior to that, though it did really set him back at a time when he could have built some serious momentum.”
Now back fit, there is renewed hope for Chukwueze. Oli continued: “Now he has recovered and is back in the fold, he’s looked sharper without doubt. He got his first assist against Lecce before the recent international break and his first goal against Dortmund on Tuesday night which was a lovely solo effort.
“Pioli said he arrived at Milan well below top condition so that, Pulisic’s red-hot start and his injury have made it a rough ride, but with Leao and Okafor out a bit longer Chukwueze will get a good run of games and we are all excited to see him build on his recent upturn.”