Player Analysis: How Will Brahim Diaz Fit In at Milan

Milan recently completed the signing of Brahim Diaz on loan from Real Madrid. His arrival at San Siro represents something of a coup for the Italians who seem eager to build on the form they showcased in the latter stages of the 2019-20 campaign.

The 21-year-old is now at a stage of his career where regular football is going to be a crucial part of his development.

A player of short stature, Diaz is truly a nightmare for defenders due to his low center of gravity and pace. Moreover, sudden changes of direction allow him to literally run rings around defenders and make him lethal in one-on-one battles.

Although he has great acceleration, Diaz isn’t as speedy as most wingers out there. However, the youngster’s excellent close control and a great first touch allow him to break lines on a regular basis.

While you would see most wingers preferring to stay out wide, Diaz is different in the sense that he likes drifting inside and add more options to build up. Due to his excellent dribbling skills, the Spaniard is able to get himself out of tight spots.

Moreover, Diaz loves testing goalkeepers by taking long-distance shots and his vision further allows him to slide in through balls. To make it simple, the youngster is great at unlocking defenses.

What really makes Diaz stand out, however, is his ability to pick his moments rather than going for whatever option is in front of him. The youngster is very confident in his ability to keep possession and actually tries to draw defenders out of position which essentially opens up a lot of space for his teammates to exploit.

At 21, Brahim Diaz definitely needs more playing time – which he was struggling to find in Madrid, but will likely have a chance to get at Milan

How Would Brahim Diaz Fit In at Milan?

Last season, Stefano Pioli went for a 4-2-3-1 formation. Offensively, Milan build through two of their most creative forces in the shape of Hakan Calhanoglu and Ismael Bennacer. Both men tend to drop deep and to win back possession or to quickly transition from defense to attack once the defenders win back the ball.

Franck Kessié also drops deep every now and then which gives the Milan defense more options to instigate quick attacking moves.

In such scenarios where they are facing teams that press deeper in order to prevent a long ball going towards Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Milan tend to counter with higher numbers and pressing in the central area. This ability to shape the press based on a particular scenario makes it difficult for the opposition to quickly react.

It would definitely be interesting to see where Brahim Diaz is positioned by Pioli. The youngster can fill in a wide variety of roles.

Looking at his overall career, Diaz has mainly operated as either a right-sided or a left-sided winger where he has scored 9 goals and provided 4 assists. However, due to his ability to take on opponents and dribbling skills, Diaz is likely to be used as a right-winger – as he was for the most part of his career.

Samu Castillejo played 22 Serie A games last season and ended up with only 2 goals and 3 assists. While Pioli does trust the Malaga-born winger to come up with the goods, the Italian tactician might already be looking into the future, which is why he decided to bring Diaz to San Siro.

Diaz hasn’t played a sufficient amount of games in top-level football to be really compared with his fellow countryman, but he could prove to be a great option coming from the bench…at least initially.

If you compare Diaz to Castillejo based on last season, one particular statistic really stands out. The youngster averaged 3.3 dribbles per game. However, it is the other elements in his game that really need to pick up if he is to become a regular member of Milan’s starting XI.

For instance, Diaz averaged only 0.6 ball recoveries and a very low number of crosses. He also averaged only 0.6 tackles per 90 minutes. While these stats don’t really tell the whole story (given that he played only 10 games last season), Diaz would be expected to come up with the goods and take his development to another level.

At Milan, Brahim Diaz is expected to face a lot of competition and it won’t be easy to replace the likes of Samu Castillejo or Alexis Saelemakeers  – who at the age of 21, is already showing much potential as he scored 2 goals and provided 2 assists in 16 Serie A games last season. The Belgian averaged 4.1 dribbles last season, which is more than both Diaz (3.3) and Castillejo (2.1).

However, what would really help Diaz truly make a name for himself is that he is an ambidextrous player and is equally lethal with both feet. This allows him to be more well rounded, especially when it comes to navigating his way around tight situations where there isn’t much room to maneuver.

Moreover, Diaz is a perfect player to instigate counter-attacking moves due to his proclivity of carrying the ball further up the pitch on his own, thus giving his teammates enough time to put themselves in the right areas on the pitch.

The fact that he loves drifting inside and testing goalkeepers means that Diaz is likely to become an integral part of his team’s build-up play as he gets used to playing in a new system where he would also be expected to help out in defense.

The Cult of Calcio Says:

At the age of 21, Brahim Diaz has his whole career ahead of him. A move to Madrid hasn’t really worked out and it was the right call to make a move to Milan, who need depth in their squad anyway. Moreover, the youngster will learn a lot from playing under a manager who has breathed fresh life in the club.

On top of that, with the Rossoneri also playing in the Europa League, Diaz will get more than enough minutes to showcase the talent that has involuntarily led to comparisons with Lionel Messi.