AC Milan Transfer Rumors: Milan Target Highly-Rated M'Baye Niang

Jason VossFeatured ColumnistAugust 7, 2012

Milan are still seeking to spend some of the funds they acquired from the Ibrahimovic and Silva sales as they look to improve their squad heading into the new season. Of late, the Rossoneri have expressed interest in Caen's M'Baye Niang, as the 17-year-old has begun to impress some of Europe's biggest sides, including Arsenal (reports from Alan Nixon of Mirror Football).

The great thing about this rumor is that the player of interest has actually expressed interest in joining the San Siro side, according to L'Equipe (h/t something Milan have not really had the luxury of with their previous summer targets.

Niang has all the makings of a typical Wenger signing: he's young, French, and has a huge upside. It comes as a bit of a surprise that coach Massimliano Allegri would wish to bring the player in because Niang would be unable to replace Ibra immediately, as it would likely talk a while for the striker to get acclimated to the Italian game.

He made his professional debut in at the age of 16, being touted as a phenom. While only having 30 games of first team football with French side Caen under his belt, he seems to have done enough to endear himself to big European clubs. This sort of versatility is always a welcome attribute for a player to have and certainly one that has helped his transfer stock of late. He's featured for France in the U-16, U-17, and the U-21 squads.

Here's a little background about the player: Niang's natural position is striker, but he drifts out to the wings and into midfield to help influence play from different positions. He excels at playing through balls to his teammates, taking shots from outside the 18-yard box, and tracking back defensively. He needs to improve on his ability to hold the ball up, allowing teammates to enter the attack. He enjoys tackling, but commits fouls quite frequently. On the offensive side, one will see him playing flighted balls pretty often.

He has an abysmal completed pass percentage, which stands at 71.8 percent (statistics courtesy of and gets dispossessed 1.4 times per game. To put that in perspective, that's double the amount of times that Stephan El Shaarawy gets dispossessed each game. At only 17, though, he still has a lot of time to improve these areas of his game.

Of the very small collection of videos available on the player, here's a goal Niang scored for the French youth team.

Transfermarkt sets his market value at 1.75 million euros, a figure that seems rather low for a player with such potential. If Milan are able to secure the Frenchman's signature, it would add some quality to their youth ranks and, perhaps, be a step in the right direction. Berlusconi wishes to emulate Barcelona's storied youth academy, La Masia, and promote youth players to eventual starting roles, thus taking a large financial burden off of the former Italian Prime Minister.

Buying Niang would be a move for the future, and, as the Milan brass are constantly looking to save themselves money, buying a promising and cheap striker would be a piece of good business. After his club Caen were relegated in the 2011-12 Ligue 1 campaign, Niang could be looking for a move to a top European club like Milan, where the threat of relegation is almost completely absent. Adding the 17-year-old could give the Rossoneri another promising attacking player to partner El Shaarawy and Pato, and should Niang complete his move and live up to the hype, Milan's attack force could be one to fear in years to come.