Injuries and tactical issues have hindered the career progression of AC Milan right-back Andrea Conti and he should consider leaving the Rossoneri to prevent any further regression.
Since he joined the club from Atalanta in the summer of 2017, he has struggled to replicate the form he displayed at La Dea predominantly due to two knee reconstructions. Based on his errors on a couple of goals, he will probably want to forget his performances in his last two Serie A matches.
Conti gave away a penalty in the 2-2 draw at home against Lecce in round 8 after a handball offence and he failed to mark Roma defender Gianluca Mancini, who provided the assist for Edin Dzeko, in the 2-1 defeat in Rome a week later.
This prompted new Rossoneri coach Stefano Pioli to leave him on the bench for the next game and the former Orobici defender did not play a single minute in the Diavolo’s 1-0 victory against SPAL on Thursday evening.
Taking his whole time at AC Milan into consideration, he has been ineffective on the ball and playing as a right-back does not allow him to utilise his strengths in the best way possible.
When Conti played for Atalanta in the 2016/17 season, he became one of the greatest revelations of the Serie A campaign.
Operating as a right wing-back in the 3-4-1-2 formation under Coach Gian Piero Gasperini, he shone thanks to his electrifying pace, low crosses into the penalty area, and scoring ability. In 33 league games, he scored eight goals and provided four assists.
This prompted AC Milan to purchase him for €24 million and also send young midfielder Matteo Pessina the other way but he has not lived up to his potential. The Rossoneri are at a low point collectively and his individual performances have been insipid so a move in January might be the catalyst for him turn his form around.
Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella implements the 3-5-2 formation and new signing Pol Lirola from Sassuolo has not been particularly impressive so Conti could possibly put the Spaniard under pressure at the Gigliati.
Torino also utilise wing-backs under Coach Walter Mazzarri. While Ola Aina and Diego Laxalt fight for a spot on the left flank and Cristian Ansaldi often plays as a box-to-box midfielder, Conti could act as a vice-Lorenzo De Silvestri.
If those two do not show any interest, Conti should consider a spell at one of the provincial clubs, even if it means sacrificing a part of his €2 million per year wage.
SPAL have not adequately replaced Manuel Lazzari since he was sold to Lazio while the likes of Marco D’Alessandro and Gabriel Strefezza have not been able to take on the responsibility that the now Aquile wing-back had.
If Conti is fit enough, he would be a better creative outlet than the current choices available to Biancazzurri coach Leonardo Semplici and also provide a scoring threat, something Lazzari was not.
If all else fails, why not a loan spell back at Atalanta? Wages might be an issue but he is already familiar with Gasperini’s methods and he came from the Orobici youth academy so the ambience around the training ground of Zingonia might be more convenient than to keep tolerating the turmoil at AC Milan.
It has not been an easy recovery process for Conti and if the experiences of former Italy international Giuseppe Rossi are anything to go by, multiple knee reconstructions can effectively end a career. After more than two years at the Rossoneri, it is unlikely that remaining at the club will result in his individual performances magically turning around.
Even if it was just a loan spell for six months, the 25-year-old needs to go somewhere he can become fit both physically and mentally.