Twelve months ago this week, Andre Silva was presented officially as an AC Milan player to great fanfare.
The Italian giants had spent €38 million to land the blossoming star, rated as one of Europe’s most promising strikers at just 21.
“He can become one of the best strikers in the world, he has everything to be so,” super agent Jorge Mendes confidently explained to Sky Sport Italia after the move. “He’ll certainly be the best player in Italy in the next few years.”
He was supposed to help kick-start a Milanese revolution and bring the club back to their glory days. Instead, it was another season of misery and twelve months on; he looks likely to depart.
While a goal return of ten across the season is not exactly disastrous, his paltry tally of just two goals in 24 league appearances represented a wretched time in which he failed to adapt to his new club and the adjusted expectations that came with it.
Starring for club and country
It was only 20 months before he pulled on Milan’s shirt for the first time that Silva made a professional appearance for FC Porto, where he had progressed through the academy.
The 2016-17 campaign proved to be his major breakthrough as he notched 21 goals in 44 appearances for the Portuguese giants.
He had netted in his first two matches and also found the net against Roma in the Champions League in a run of form which helped propel him to signing a new five-year contract at the club that September.
His form was being replicated at international level where his first 22 caps have brought an impressive goal tally of 12.
It was thought and is still very much hoped that he will one day be able to take the mantle from Cristiano Ronaldo as the nation’s main goal threat.
Lack of playing time
Yet it is natural that struggles at club level will impact upon form and confidence.
In some ways, Silva has been unfortunate due to the emergence of Milanese youngster Patrick Cutrone up front at the San Siro, while Nikola Kalinic has also at times been preferred.
“I’ve spent a lot of time on the bench, but I am young, I have to work to try and score for the team,” Silva said back in March. “My thought has always been to stay here and do my work at Milan.”
However, despite a clear readiness to fight for his place in Gennaro Gattuso’s side, there are other factors prompting a potential departure. The Milanese giants are in choppy financial waters and may need to offload several first-team players this summer in order to balance the books.
Reports suggest Silva could command a €40 million fee and Wolves, a club where agent Mendes has particularly strong links may be able to pay it.
Perhaps at a club with lower expectations and fan pressure, Silva could thrive. He may utilise this summer’s World Cup as a platform to display the talents everyone knows he possesses, and re-find his self-confidence.
Even if the Milan adventure ends this summer, at just 22 and with an impressive track record, there is no reason why Silva cannot become a superstar yet.
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