Serero - The Latest Target Of Struggling Milan

News did its rounds on Wednesday that struggling giants Milan are after the services of Ajax Amsterdam and South Africa midfielder Thulani Serero. But who is he?

Who Is Thulani Serero?
Cream, as he is affectionately known, broke onto the scene with Ajax’s sister club, Ajax Cape Town, in 2008. His debut season saw him rack up four goals as he helped his side to a 7th place finish.

His incredible technique and gifted touch at such a young age saw him become the club’s first choice playmaker, where he again contributed to a reasonable seventh place finish. This was only the start of endless newspapers and online websites plastering his name everywhere…

However, the real story of Serero’s capabilities only started to unravel under the guidance of Dutch tactician, Foppe De Haan. The veteran coach knew exactly how to make Serero tick in all the right places on the field. 

Together, the teacher and the student formed an inspiring Ajax Cape Town side and the pint-sized player was seen wrecking havoc on the flanks, causing trouble down the middle of the field, and drifting defenders wide with his sneaky feigns and touches.

Simply put, Serero and his Ajax Cape Town colleagues were unstoppable, and they so narrowly missed out on being crowned Absa Premiership champions for the 2010/11 season. 

Serero In Amsterdam
Serero’s impressive pace, flair and undiluted skill saw him make the move to Amsterdam at the age of 20, for a fee of € 2,5 million.

Many South Africans have gone to Europe and returned almost immediately, but not Serero. The youngster showed a great amount of determination to stick it out despite his debut season with de Godenzonen being plagued with injury.

His first goal for AFC Ajax came in the home win against NAC Breda on 25 August 2012, but it was in the match a fortnight later in which the two faces of Serero came out…

It was the match against SC Heerenveen where Serero stole the show for many different reasons. He came on to score a wonderful brace for his new club, but was later sent off for receiving a red card in the very same match.

His dismissal left many in shock. At face value, Serero stands at 5ft7 and looks incredibly shy when spoken to. He avoids the media at all costs and prefers to let his football do the talking.

The 24-year-old’s football did indeed speak for itself. The more he grew as a player, the more skilled he became, and that was a lesson he taught Barcelona.

His first international goal came at the hands of the mighty Catalans, where he pounced on a threaded ball placed into the box, completely unmarked, passed Jose Pinto.

However, while Ajax celebrated his continuous rise in form and a highly impressive 2-1 win over Blaugrana, few were aware that this fixture was the cause of controversy in his home of South Africa.

Club Before Country
While Serero has been blessed with an abundance of skill, he has, however, been a figure of debate when it comes to his national team.

Just two weeks before the UEFA Champions League fixture against Barcelona, Serero kicked up a stir when he withdrew himself from Bafana Bafana’s match against Botswana for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

His initial reason was due to injury but it was allegedly reported that he feigned injury in order to not risk picking up any potential knocks ahead of the Barca clash.

That wasn’t the first and last disciplinary action taken against Serero. The pint-sized player was then involved in another national team incident ahead of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

Called upon to lead the country in the tournament, Serero was later dropped from Shakes Mashaba’s 24-man squad because he failed to report for camp despite being in the country at the time.

So, would he work at Milan?

The Rossoneri Rumours
It is no secret that Milan need all the help they can get, but seeing his name linked with the Diavoli did come as a shock.

For one, Serero is incredibly small in stature and weighs in at an incredibly light 68kgs. His minute figure would make it difficult to come up against the towering defenders Serie A possesses.

Take Alexandre Pato for example; at the age of 25, ‘The Duck’ is currently weighing in at around 71kg's. Yet, this is only after he spent a summer adding on a tremendous amount of muscle after finding it physically tough in his debut season with the Rossoneri.

It still didn’t help him, however, as he struggled with muscle injury after muscle injury and he was later shipped back to Brazil.

This is something Serero would have to be conscious about… Serero is already injury prone as it is and any pressure placed on his body to beef up could very well see him land up like Pato.

Nonetheless, there is no doubting the skill Serero possesses in his boots, and Pippo Inzaghi’s side are in desperate need of a player that can create and feed the ball through from the middle of the park.

His slim frame may be a concern that Adriano Galliani and the medical staff will have to look into, but there is no question that someone with the quality he has is needed at Milanello.

In order to work, the likes of Nigel De Jong (if he stays), Andrea Poli and Riccardo Montolivo would have to guard and protect him in a three-man midfield prong as he works his way up the field and creates some magic. 

Kind of how Andrea Pirlo, who weights 68kg's too, was protected by Gennaro Gattuso and Clarence Seedorf when at Milan. However, the midfield maestro knows full well how to use his body to protect the ball, something which Serero does need to learn. 

South Africans haven’t generally done well in Italy, but with Serero said to be estimated at a figure of €5 million - petty cash if you look at Philipe Mexes' salary- Galliani could be tempted to take the risk and invest in him. Why not?


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