Franck Kessie: Milan’s midfield machine

He’s hardly had a goal filled year. In fact, he’s only ever had one season with double figures on the goal contribution front. For that reason, most people won’t know the name Franck Kessie. Well, we expect the midfielder’s name to become more mainstream over the next few months. Given you can currently pick him up for £0.83, he feels like a real bargain.

Who is Franck Kessie?

Kessie was born in West African country Ivory Coast where he made his first strides into the world of football. He pulled on the green strip of Stella Club D’adjame as a 14-year-old. He instantly shone at youth level and was part of the Ivory Coast squad that went to the Under 17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

Caps at Under 20 level followed and his first senior international call up came whilst still plying his trade in his homeland. Then came a move to Europe with Atalanta taking him on loan. That became a permanent deal in the summer of 2015 with £1.4m the fee involved.

Impressing in Italy

Kessie initially spent time with Atalanta’s development side. It was his performances there that earned him the opportunity to remain in Italy. After signing a full time contract with the club, he was quickly sent on loan to Serie B side Cesena. The Ivorian spent most of his time there in the middle of the park but showed his versatility by filling in at centre half on a couple of occasions too as his loan club made the play-offs. They ultimately failed to win promotion. On a personal level, Kessie had done his reputation no harm at all. Throughout the season he netted four goals and laid on a further two for teammates. It was his all round game that won admirers though. 

On his return to Atalanta, who had finished the prior season 13th in Serie A, he was immediately into the thick of the action. Four goals in his first three games made him an instant hit. During the remainder of the campaign, Kessie added just a further two league goals and two assists. He racked up 30 appearances though with the majority of his absences not down to choice. The midfielder picked up three one game suspensions and missed a further trio of games due to AFCON commitments. 

After helping Atalanta to a fourth place finish, Kessie made the hour trip south to Milan where he’d be donning the famed red and black of AC during a two year loan spell. After netting 12 goals across the next two seasons whilst adding a steel to the spine of Milan’s team they splashed £21.6m to sign Kessie permanently. Where 2019/20 is concerned his goal involvement has dried up a little. He has just a solitary goal and single assist in 35 appearances to date. Don’t worry though, Kessie’s game is about more than making the net ripple.

Style of play

Kessie is a physical and mobile body in the midfield. He won’t go rattling into tackles with a preference to stand his ground and retrieve the ball through his strength and reading of play. When his team is in possession, he is a player that shows bravery in the sense that he’s always an option – even if he has players up his backside. He has no concerns about shrugging off the attentions of the opposition and has the confidence to turn and drag his team forwards as he either carries or recycles the ball.

In the defensive phase, he averages one interception, one block and one clearance per game whilst at the other end he generally pops up with a shot and key pass per 90 minutes. His passing game is where he really shines though with an 88.1% accuracy, which is similar to the output of Jorginho and David Silva. 

What is next for Franck Kessie?

It depends what you believe. Some media outlets suggest Kessie is central to AC Milan plans and the player has said he’s keen to stay. Most though think they might have a fight on their hands to keep hold of the 23-year-old. That will likely prove the case if rumours of Premier League interest is firmed up. Arsenal, Everton, West Ham and Newcastle have all been linked.

On top of that, with budgets potentially limited in the summer after the Covid-19 pandemic it might be that he’s sacrificed as a makeweight to bring in what is deemed to be a more key player. Napoli’s Arkadiusz Milik is a major target for Stefano Pioli where such a deal has been muted.

Whatever the future holds for Franck Kessie, £0.83 could well prove a snip.

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