'I always had Milan in my mind' – Baggio-inspired Adli raring to go in Serie A

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Yacine Adli "always" had Milan in his mind while spending last season on loan at former club Bordeaux, and he arrives in Serie A with high expectations of what he could achieve.

The attacking midfielder, who turns 22 later this month, officially signed for Milan last August but remained in Ligue 1 for the 2021-22 campaign.

It ended up being a miserable one for Bordeaux, who finished bottom of the table and were then hit with a further demotion to the third tier due to their financial difficulties. The sanction was upheld after an initial appeal.

Adli knew his future was already settled, and with Bordeaux in turmoil, he unsurprisingly had greener pastures in his thoughts for much of the season.

While he was attempting to help Bordeaux dig themselves out of a hole, Milan were fighting – and ultimately won – a Serie A title battle, clinching their first Scudetto in 11 years.

As such, Adli has designs on grand achievements at San Siro.

Speaking to reporters at his official presentation on Monday, Adli said: "[Last season] wasn't an easy one. I always played my best for Bordeaux, I tried to focus on my role in the team there, although I always had Milan in mind – to get here and do my best.

"I've been wanting to arrive here in the best shape possible. I already knew some of my team-mates, but I have to adapt to the new surroundings.

Adli
Adli

"My French team-mates have adapted quickly to the club. I arrive with a different experience and in the team of the Italian champions. I arrive with humility and respect to achieve the greatest goals.

"I followed very closely the Milan games last season, and I saw a strong, tight, collective effort, especially towards the end of the season when no false moves could be made.

"A successful team like Milan can only aspire to [win] the Scudetto. It's not easy because in Italy there is a lot of competition. Once again this year we will try to confirm ourselves as Italian champions, we will try to defend this title in the best possible way."

The Paris Saint-Germain youth product joined Bordeaux in 2019 and developed into one of Ligue 1's most promising young players.

A technically gifted midfielder, Adli is most at home in a creative role, with much of his time on the pitch for Bordeaux spent in a central attacking position behind the striker.

Over the course of his three years with Bordeaux, only nine players (minimum of 1,500 minutes played) averaged more than his 1.6 open-play chances created in Ligue 1.

Adli
Adli

Sixteen bettered Adli's 15 assists over the same period, though seven of those came in the 2021-22 campaign alone, and it should be noted he was a young player in a team who never finished higher than 12th.

Admittedly, his productivity suffered significantly in the second half of 2021-22, managing to set up just one goal after the turn of the year, but again he was in a side who were in free fall as they lost 11 times and won only three games in 2022.

Despite his struggles and those of Bordeaux, Milan appear to have acquired a talent who will provide guaranteed creativity behind the forwards.

As a French attacking midfielder moving to Italy from Bordeaux, Zinedine Zidane was always likely to be mentioned during Adli's presentation, yet it was instead a former Rossoneri attacker he highlighted a particular admiration for thanks to a connection with George Weah.

"I had the chance to train with Timothy Weah [at PSG], and he always advised me to watch Roberto Baggio as an example because I could learn a lot from him – and so I did," Adli said.

"Great champions like him and Zidane are players to look up to but without trying to emulate them because [their status] is unattainable.

"I believe it's important to create your own path and work every day to get better."

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