Last season ended in disappointment for AC Milan as they missed out on a Champions League place on the final day of the season.

The club were dealt a further blow when they were ruled out of the Europa League for next season due to Financial Fair Play breaches.

Now it is time for a fresh start. Failure to achieve a top four finish cost Gennaro Gattuso his job, with Sampdoria manager Marco Giampaolo succeeding him. Gattuso largely relied upon a 4-3-3 system during his tenure, whilst Giampaolo can be expected to play a 4-1-3-2 formation moving forwards.

We take a look at what Giampaolo should be focusing on as he aims to steer his side in to the Champions League places in his maiden season in charge.

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A Replacement for Gianluigi Donnarumma


Amazingly, Gianluigi Donnarumma is still only 20 years of age. Yet he is already a crucial player for Milan, producing some excellent saves in the second half of last season to keep Milan pushing for a top four spot until the final day of the campaign.

However, he is now strongly linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain, with Milan reportedly open to the idea of selling the Italian international.

If this deal does go through then Milan will need a capable replacement to fill Donnarumma's boots. Alphonse Areola could well be that player, as PSG appear to be happy to allow the French goalkeeper to leave as part of the Donnarumma deal.

Areola was regularly alternated with Gianluigi Buffon last year, and is unlikely to be eager to play second fiddle to Donnarumma in the upcoming season. At the age of 26, Areola is entering his prime, whilst Donnarumma is still developing, so this could be viewed as a positive short-term move for Milan as they aim to secure a Champions League berth next year.

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Centre Back Partner for Alessio Romagnoli


Milan had the joint-third best defensive record in the league last season, conceding 36 goals in their 38 games. However, this can largely be put down to impressive performances from Donnarumma and captain Alessio Romagnoli.

Mateo Musacchio was often handed the role alongside Romagnoli, yet he struggled to convince on a regular basis. Meanwhile, the other central defensive option last season was Cristian Zapata, but he confirmed his departure from the club last month.

According to MilanLive, Milan are interested in Sampdoria defender Joachim Andersen. Giampaolo has experience working with the Danish defender from his time in Genoa, and the right-sided centre back has the potential to form a fine partnership with Romagnoli.

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A New Left Back


Ricardo Rodriguez has been Milan's first choice left back for the past two years, but it would be fair to say that the Swiss defender did not have his best campaign last season for the Rossoneri.

His crossing was below his usual standards, whilst he showed defensive vulnerabilities at times as well. 

Therefore, it is no surprise that Milan are on the brink of signing a replacement, with the arrival of Theo Hernandez appearing imminent. The Real Madrid full back was sent out on loan to Real Sociedad last year, and Marca are reporting that he will complete a €20m move to Milan in the coming days.

This will cause Rodriguez to either up his game or be left out of the side with Hernandez being favoured. Diego Laxalt was unable to put Rodriguez under sufficient pressure last season and Giampaolo will hope that is not the case with Hernandez.

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Defensive Midfield Replacement for Tiemoue Bakayoko


Bakayoko was one of Milan's better performers under Gattuso, overcoming a slow start to life in Italy, before producing a string of consistent displays at the base of the midfield.

However, he was only on loan from Chelsea, and Milan's failure to secure Champions League football meant that the club were unwilling to pay a significant amount of money to make the deal permanent.

This leaves Milan searching for an alternative. The club still have the experienced Lucas Biglia in their ranks, but the Argentine struggled with fitness last year, managing to appear in just 16 Serie A games. 

Milan would like to bring Lucas Torreira back to Italy, another player that Giampaolo has previous experience of working with. However, Torreira is said to be happy to stay at Arsenal for the moment, which could lead to Milan looking elsewhere for a holding midfielder.

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A Central Midfielder


Having just taken the job at Milan, there is plenty of speculation as to who Giampaolo will see as his key players moving forwards. One player who does not seem to be a big part of Milan's future plans is Franck Kessie

The Ivorian has been an ever-present for Milan during the last two seasons, but he was often frustrating to watch last year, with his final ball letting him down time and time again.

The links between Milan and Sampdoria continue here, with the Rossoneri set to battle Arsenal for the signature of Dennis Praet

The Belgian midfielder has been a composed figure in Sampdoria's midfield for the past three seasons. He is tidy on the ball, whilst also offering a fine pressing game when out of possession, and these characteristics could mean that he joins Giampaolo in Milan this summer.

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A Striker to Challenge Krzysztof Piatek and Patrick Cutrone


Milan are expected to start the season with a front two, and they have two exceptional talents in Krzysztof Piatek and Patrick Cutrone to call upon. 

Piatek made an instant impact in his first season in Serie A, scoring 22 goals for Genoa and then Milan when he moved to the club in January. Meanwhile, Cutrone kept Gonzalo Higuain out of the side at times in the first half of last season, and then made his mark as an impact substitute in the closing stages of the campaign.

Yet Giampaolo will want other options available as well. Despite being an exciting prospect, Cutrone did only find the net three times in the league last season, and if he struggles for goals again this season, it is important that Milan have alternatives who can push the youngster to improve.

Andre Silva could well be that player if Milan choose to keep him following his loan spell with Sevilla. It was a mixed campaign for the Portuguese forward last year, but if Giampaolo does bring back a rejuvenated Silva then this would be like a new signing for the club.