Milan’s Lucas Paquetá has followed in the path of some famous Brazilians like Kaka, but any comparisons should end there as the youngster finds his feet
AC Milan has always been a popular destination for Brazilian footballers, but it has been a long time since the Italian giants last had a Brazilian star in their ranks. Flamengo academy product Lucas Paquetá has just arrived with a lot of expectations surrounding him. Will he manage to live up to them?
Brazilians have always had their say at Milan, especially in the period in between 1997 and 2012. The likes of Serginho, Leonardo, Dida, Cafu, Ricardo Kaká, Ronaldo Fenômeno, Ronaldinho, Robinho and Alexandre Pato wrote history with the Rossoneri.
Once, Seleção fans would tune in to every single Milan game with the hope of seeing their favorite Brazilian footballers. But it seemed like this magical connection between Brazil and Milan had faded away with the departures of Pato and Thiago Silva around 2012. The period that followed was a dark one for every Brazilian who tried his luck afterwards. It’s not even an exaggeration to say that the San Siro misses having a Seleção legend steal the show week in, week out.
This is certainly saying much from a man who has trained years with the 2007 Ballon D’or winner. But the idea of comparing Lucas to one of the biggest legends in Milan’s history has the potential to backfire.
Paquetá needs to find own path at Milan
We need to hear less about Lucas Paquetá being the new Ricardo Kaká, and concentrating on Lucas Paquetá actually being himself – a very talented footballer who is versatile and tactically flexible enough to ply his trade anywhere in midfield, or even as second striker.
In three games as stater so far, Paquetá has demonstrated to Milan fans just how skillful he can be. It’s no doubt very telling that Gattuso trusted the youngster to start him in two cup games in a row, against Sampdoria and Juventus respectively and in Monday’s Serie A clash at Genoa. But as mentioned above, Lucas needs to be preserved, because Milan fans have been dreaming for years of Kaká’s heir.
Lucas Paquetá will never be the new Kaká, but he is so special in his own way. It would be unfair to label his success depending on whether he can become as good as his compatriot or not. He can still become world class without being as good as past legends, and that is what Gattuso and future Milan coaches need to explain to the fans.
What makes Lucas Paquetá exceptional is most importantly the way he reads the game. Two decades ago, his ideal position would have been the classic 10, or ‘trequartista’, as they prefer to say in Italy. This position is slowly fading in football, but if there is a league that still cherishes a trequartista, it would have to be Italy.
Joining AC Milan was an intelligent decision by Lucas Paquetá. The Brazilian has bags of potential and has what it takes to mark his name in Serie A. It is very likely that he will be a key player for Brazil by the time Copa América starts.