Getting to know Milan's Mbaye Niang

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Maurizio Lagana/Getty ImagesMilan's Mbaye Niang is emerging as a potent threat in the Rossoneri's attack.

Just four months into his Milan career, Mbaye Niang signed a new contract extension last December which would keep him at the club until 2017. Having scored his first goal for the Rossoneri in the Coppa Italia win over Reggina just a week earlier, it wasn't a bad way to celebrate his 18th birthday.

Since then, the France Under-21 international has gone on to break into the first team and has started the last two games, the latter his first in Serie A. Arguably producing the stand-out performance in each game, the early promise he showed is now becoming evident for all to see.

Lazy journalism continues to suggest that he is the 'next Mario Balotelli', something Niang is keen to dismiss. "I am not the Balotelli of Milan. It was too early to say that, I'm still very young. My personal objective is to play more, but I just want the team to reach third place."

His abilities on the pitch appear to be matched with a great attitude off it, putting himself at the service of the club with his personal achievements being of secondary importance. Combining strength and pace, there are still elements of his play that need improvement, but he is fully focused on becoming a better player.

"[Massimiliano] Allegri has shown faith in me and I hope that he's satisfied with me. I'm young so I have to work harder than others, however, two good games don't make you a qualified Milan player."

Working in tandem with fellow youngster Stephan El Shaarawy, he appears to have a great relationship with the Italian who he refers to as being 'like a brother'. Operating from either flank, both players are tireless in their approach, working hard for the side from a defensive point of view.

As the point of discussion in my previous post, one man that must be pleased with the current setup is Giampaolo Pazzini. After bagging a winning brace on Sunday against Bologna, 'Pazzo' should be relishing the prospect of having the 'dynamic duo' supplying him with chances.

With a move to bring Kaka back to Milan breaking down due to 'fiscal reasons', perhaps it is a blessing in disguise. Without the Brazilian, Niang can be given more room to grow and secure his place in the starting XI, although there is speculation resurfacing that the Rossoneri might still be interested in Balotelli, if the price is right.

- Milan want Balotelli price dropped
- Kaka unlikely to seal Milan move

The question therefore is whether or not Milan need Balotelli. Would his arrival stunt the progress of Niang? While 'Super Mario' is undoubtedly a gifted enigma, he perhaps lacks the attitude of Niang, and that could make him an expensive mistake.

There is also the question of what is Niang's best position. Allegri has primarily used him on the right wing where he has utilized his pace to great effect. While his decision-making and execution is still raw, should he remain there or be brought into the centre?

The El Shaarawy-Balotelli pairing appears to represent the future of Cesare Prandelli's Italy, but it is an El Shaarawy-Niang double act that should be Milan's.

Impressed with Niang's impact so far? How good do you think he can be? Should Milan still be looking to sign Balotelli?

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