Vincenzo Montella says he must accept responsibility if Carlos Bacca fails to play to his potential, as the coach contemplates deploying Gerard Deulofeu as a false nine when AC Milan face Lazio.
Bacca scored 18 Serie A goals in his debut season at San Siro, but the Colombia international has netted just twice in his past 13 league outings.
The 30-year-old fell out with Montella after reacting angrily to being substituted against Sampdoria last week, while he also failed to see out the 1-0 win over Bologna last time out – although that was mainly due to the fact Milan were down to nine men.
Bacca may be consigned to the bench when the Rossoneri travel to Rome on Monday and Montella is keen to find a solution to get the best out of the former Sevilla forward.
“For us he [Bacca] is a major player,” he told a news conference. “I have a duty to get the best out of him and if that fails it is my fault.
“In the past he did better, not only in terms of goals. But I will not tell you now if he plays or not.”
Deulofeu has made a positive impact since arriving on loan from Everton and he provided a fine assist for Mario Pasalic to score a dramatic late winner at Bologna, despite their numerical disadvantage, a result which ended a four-match losing run in all competitions.
Montella was asked if the winger could form a front three with Suso and Lucas Ocampos at Stadio Olimpico, but the coach is yet to decide.
“A false nine? Yes, I’m thinking about it. It’s possible,” he added. “It is right to give him praise for what he did [against Bologna]. It’s fine to do it in the media but I also like to praise others.”
Montella urged his team to take the momentum from the win over Bologna into the Lazio game, as eighth-place Milan look to force their way back into the reckoning for European qualification.
“There were a thousand reasons to make excuses, instead they [the players] were professional. It should be an example and a memory that we use every time,” he said.
“I am very proud, there is a spirit here because we are a true team. The targets are always high, we need this spirit shown in Bologna in order to achieve our aims.”
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