Pierre Kalulu arrived in Milan in 2020 with very little fanfare. Although he was identified by AC Milan chief scout Geoffrey Moncada, whose expertise is often second to none, not much was thought of the transfer. Kalulu was just a teenager who arrived for a fee of €1.19 million. In addition, Kalulu had never logged a senior appearance for Lyon, the team he arrived from. He came to Milan as an unknown but is now marking his place as one of Europe’s top young centre-back prospects.
Pierre Kalulu: AC Milan’s Rising Star
Time at Milan
Kalulu arrived in Milan as a right-back. This position wasn’t necessarily in need for the Rossoneri, so the young Frenchman was transitioned into a centre-back.
He made appearances here and there in his debut Milan season (2020/21). This was mostly due to injuries in the squad, but Kalulu made due. In his first Serie A start in December 2020 versus Genoa, Kalulu actually scored an equalising goal to salvage a point for Milan. Scoring in his first start was a good sign of things to come. Appearances for the defender slowed down after the arrival of Fikayo Tomori in January 2021. This was not a knock on his progress, however, but more so the fact that Milan needed a more experienced option as soon as possible. Kalulu’s improvement did not stop there.
Fast forward to this season. Kalulu has 18 Serie A, five Champions League, and three Coppa Italia appearances to his name. It’s beyond clear that the Milan management, especially manager Stefano Pioli, trusts the young Frenchman.
In January of this season, Milan were without Tomori and Simon Kjaer. Makeshift center-back pairings were used, but Kalulu was always included. He held the defence together at times. Milan’s last two matches have been no different.
In the Coppa Italia semi-final versus Inter Milan, Alessio Romagnoli left the match early due to injury. Kalulu stepped in and kept Edin Dzeko at bay all match long.
The next match was an absolute must-win versus Napoli. The defender kept Victor Osimhen quiet, which is an incredibly tough task. Osimhen was visibly frustrated as well due to Kalulu’s efforts. At only 21-years-old, the future is bright. With that being said, Milan are reportedly negotiating a deal with another centre-back, so a starting spot is not a guarantee.
Kalulu represents the mold of the new generation defender. He holds most assets required for a successful defender – speed, tackling precision, positioning, aerial ability, and more. Kalulu, however, also contributes going forward. In fact, this is a very important part of his game.
The Frenchman takes his defensive play seriously but never looks back when given the chance to go forward. He plays strong passes and his past as a fullback allows him to send in solid crosses as well. More than that, he can always be found fighting for a goal in set pieces.
His speed, paired with his intelligence, continues to be his strongest asset. Kalulu is fantastic when it comes to intercepting the ball. Even when he reads a pass wrong, his speed allows him to catch up to the opposing attacker.
More playing time and experience will serve Pierre Kalulu well. There’s no doubt that Milan want to hang onto the talented youngster whose future is bright.
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