Player Analysis: Pierre Kalulu Ready to Seize the Day at Milan

Pierre Kalulu Kyatengwa. Remember the name. Back in August 2020, Milan beat Bayern Munich to the signature of a young Frenchman on a Bosman from Lyon. That day, most Rossoneri supporters didn’t even know him. But on Wednesday night against Lazio, he made his 5th official appearance for the Diavolo and those fans now can’t stop heaping loads of praise on him.

So, as part of our player analysis series in collaboration with The Scouting App, it’s about time to get to know him better.

Pierre Kalulu was born in Lyon, France, 20 years ago. At the aged of 7, he joined youth club AS Saint-Priest. Three years later, he moved to Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyonnais where he spent 10 years getting promoted from their youth academy to the second team.

Usually, Kalulu plays as a right-back. However, he is versatile and can comfortably be set up as left-back or center-back. In fact, and since desperate times call for desperate measures, with all the injuries plaguing the Milan defense, Stefano Pioli found himself forced to play Kalulu as center-back.

So far, he didn’t disappoint. On the contrary, he has delivered some stellar performances. Even when he was overpowered and beaten twice by Genoa’s Veteran Mattia Destro, he managed to redeem himself by scoring an equalizer for his team.

Pierre Kalulu celebrating his equalizing goal against Genoa

The young man is a typical new generation defender who likes to contribute a lot in the attacking phase of the game. As soon as he receives the ball, he tries not to look back. All he wants is to find the right pass forward. First, he considers the long pass to an advanced striker. His second choice is to play the ball towards the right-back. On some occasions, Kalulu strides with the ball, taking advantage of space ahead.

A very interesting feature of his game is the interception of the ball. He is often in the right position to make a quick intervention that leaves the opposition’s attack for dead. In the rare occasions when Kalulu is caught on the wrong foot, he paces back, then uses his strength to challenge for the ball.

The table below shows his average interception rate compared to his teammates who have filled a center-back spot so far:

per 90 min
Alessio Romagnoli Simon
3.8 1.5 1.7 0.4

Pierre. who has superior natural fitness and work rate, is still far from being a complete player. Many aspects of his game still need to be improved, most notably his aerial duels – where he succeeds in only 44% of the times despite being 1.84 m tall – and his long ball distribution skills which so far have a success rate as low as 38%. Also, he tends to misplace those long passes and lose the ball in dangerous areas and this is mainly due to his lack of experience in decision making.

Kalulu is definitely enjoying life under coach Stefano Pioli who found the young man very reliable and worthy to fit in Simon Kjaer’s shoes, at least until the winter transfer window. Pioli was mostly impressed by his ability to directly integrate into the first team. Kalulu has shown the maturity, confidence and calmness that a well-seasoned player would have despite his young age. The well-timed tackles and determination make him a good partner for captain Alessio Romagnoli. The two seem to be on good terms on and off the pitch with communication being key to their achievement.

Once again Milan, management proved that they have a clear vision on where they want their team to be in the future. And what could be better for that future than a young player who can immediately contribute to short term goals?

With the imminent departure of Mateo Musacchio and the continuous injuries of Leo Duarte as well as of many other defensive players, Paolo Maldini will surely be looking to reinforce the defense and the center back position in particular. However, a loan move for Kalulu should surely be off the table.

With a Rossoneri side that is hungry for long awaited success and a big opportunity to shine, Pierre Kalulu couldn’t have wished for a better start for his career. The young defender is clearly grabbing this opportunity with both hands.