Gennaro Gattuso has challenged Andre Silva to work harder for his chance in the AC Milan first team, as speculation builds over the striker’s future.
The Portugal international joined from Porto last June for €38million but has struggled in his first season in Italy, scoring just twice in 23 Serie A appearances.
Silva has only started three league games in 2018, with Nikola Kalinic and youngster Patrick Cutrone preferred by head coach Gattuso, prompting rumours of a possible club-record bid from Championship winners Wolves.
Gattuso insists he sees potential in the 22-year-old Silva but has warned him that talent is not enough.
“You all know what I think of him,” he told a news conference. “He has talent and technique but, at the same time, he has to improve a lot.
“When I give him opportunities, he has to make the most of them. The talent is undeniable, but he needs to do more.
“Players have to let themselves be helped. If you don’t train in a certain way because you think you won’t play, you have to do more in the week to show why you deserve to play.”
“Mistakes can happen, but I want to move on: we are playing two important games”
Listen to Gigio’s words
“Capita di sbagliare, ma volto subito pagina: ci aspettano due partite molto importanti”
Ascolta le parole di @gigiodonna1 #weareacmilan pic.twitter.com/eYARGk1n9G
— AC Milan (@acmilan) May 11, 2018
Milan face Atalanta on Sunday, knowing that a win would guarantee a top-six finish and a place in next season’s Europa League.
A positive result would also banish some memories of the 4-0 Coppa Italia final thrashing at the hands of Juventus, in which goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma endured a torrid performance.
Gattuso believes the constant speculation around Donnarumma’s future has not helped the 19-year-old to concentrate on matches.
“It’s not easy with all these voices,” he said. “In football, it’s not enough just to be amazing, but you also have to have a clear head. If you’re not calm, it becomes very difficult.
“Three days before the final, there was talk of Paris-Saint Germain and various meetings. It’s incredible.
“I was a player for 20 years. When there was something bothering me, I couldn’t perform to my usual standard. When your wife is annoying you, for instance, it’s not easy to do your best work, is it?”
However, Gattuso hopes the players can put thoughts of Juve behind them when they travel to Bergamo.
“It’s our duty to help lift the players up and achieve our goal, which is to go directly into the Europa League,” he said. “We’ve been working on the minds of the players, because thinking about it now isn’t going to help.
“It will leave a mark, especially on the ones who made mistakes, but mistakes are part of our sport.”
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