Pioli hints at Origi start amid fierce competition at Milan

·3-min read

Stefano Pioli hinted Divock Origi could make his first Serie A start when Milan go to Sampdoria on Saturday, as he emphasised the importance of competition in his Rossoneri squad.

Origi joined Milan in July after leaving Liverpool on a free transfer, but has been a peripheral figure during their promising start to the new campaign.

With the likes of Rafael Leao, Junior Messias and Olivier Giroud preferred by Pioli, Origi has made just three substitute appearances in the league, playing a total of 47 minutes.

But speaking ahead of the trip to Sampdoria, Pioli said the Belgium international is ready to make his full debut.

Asked whether it was time for Origi to feature more heavily, Pioli said: "I think so, because he is better and has had time to pick up the pace.

"We have various solutions. Charles [De Ketelaere] is doing everything I am asking of him, he is inserting himself more and more and better and better, I am happy with his performance.

"Brahim [Diaz] has certain characteristics to give us numerical superiority. It is inevitable that you always ask me about who does not play, but I always choose based on the game.

"We have to play with energy for 95 minutes. At the end of the game we must have no more energy."

Milan have only been beaten once in Serie A this year, with Spezia prevailing in January). No other team has lost fewer games than the Rossoneri across the top five European leagues in 2022.

The Rossoneri have also averaged 2.29 points per game this calendar year, a figure bettered only by Liverpool (2.4) and Manchester City (2.38) across the continent's biggest leagues.

Milan enjoyed a busy transfer window after ending their 11-year wait for the Scudetto in May, bringing in the likes of Origi, De Ketelaere and Sergino Dest. Pioli, however, insists a renewal of his squad was not necessary, highlighting the need for competition in every position.

"I don't like the term turnover. It's not only the first 11 who are chosen," he added.

"I know that I have strong players, a very specific identity and I am sure that everyone, when called upon, will give their all.

"Tomorrow I will field what, in my opinion, is the best formation: I go ahead for what I see and for what I feel. It is not that if I rotate, I do it as a bias. I put players on the field to win games."

Meanwhile, Milan have been forced to recover from a series of slow starts this season; each of Udinese, Atalanta, Inter and Salzburg (the latter in the Champions League) have opened the scoring against the Rossoneri in recent weeks.

But Pioli is impressed with the character the Serie A champions have shown when overcoming those deficits, adding: "As an approach, we only made a mistake with Udinese, but it is clear that it is a fact that we want to reverse.

"Then, however, the great awareness of the team is confirmed. Despite the disadvantage, they continue to believe in themselves to change the game."