Arkadiusz Milik’s ascent was a slow one. He impressed for Górnik Zabrze as a youngster and earned himself a move to Bayer Leverkusen. Unfortunately for him, his time at the BayArena was brief and after demotion to the reserves, he was sent out on loan to Augsburg. The Pole failed to make the most of the opportunity but Ajax spotted something in him and signed him on a loan deal for 12 months.
In Amsterdam, Milik scored goals. He finished the 2014/15 campaign with 23 in all competitions and after making the move to the Dutch giants permanent, he followed that up with 24 goals the season after.
Napoli had seen enough. They parted with £30million to secure the services of the Polish forward, identifying him as the heir to Gonzalo Higuain in Naples. He scored twice on his debut and netted doubles against Dynamo Kyiv and Bologna to kick his career off with the Partenopei in style.
Milik tore his anterior cruciate ligament in October before returning in February of 2017. However, he tore the ligament in his other knee in September and didn’t return until 2018. Nobody knew whether he’d ever rediscover his form but during the 2018/19 campaign – his first full one back in three years – the 26-year-old finished the season with 17 Serie A strikes to his name. So far this term he has nine in 16.
And teams are taking notice. The 26-year-old’s contract expires in 2021 and though he’s open to extending his stay, his wage demands are proving to be problematic for the Italian side. According to Calciomercato.com, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has already made it known to the player’s entourage that he will not listen to offers of less than €40million. The Italian outlet claim €50million seems to be the price tag for the attacker.
This hasn’t done enough to dissuade Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal or Manchester United. The trio of Premier League clubs are all reportedly interested in the 6ft1ins forward and are keeping tabs on his situation in Naples. If Napoli decide to cash in, they’ve all positioned themselves at the front of the queue. But, could the 49-cap Poland international really cut in the English top-flight?
Over the past two seasons, Milik is averaging 0.57 open-play goals per 90. When looking at his expected goals average, the Napoli No.99 is on par. But when taking his post-shot expected goals average into account, it doesn’t paint the former Ajax man in a positive light.
For those not familiar with the latter stat, this metric takes into account where the shot was taken from and where the effort lands on target. The elite forwards always have a higher post-shot xG average because, well, they’re better finishers.
Milik is devaluing his chances. A difference of 0.09 might not seem like much but over the course of a 38-game season, it’s a swing of nearly four goals.
When looking at Milik’s shot placement map, you can kind of understand exactly why this is the case. Almost 50 per cent of his shots are hitting the centre of the goal. Despite this, only 25 per cent of his goals arrive in those areas. By comparison, 21 per cent of his shots are to Milik’s right-hand side but near 50 per cent of his goals come from these efforts.
He’s having opportunities, 4.11 per 90 to be exact, but he’s not making the most of them, not properly. In the Premier League, players can’t afford to be wasteful. Chances are at a premium and with so many teams battling it out for a top-four place, opportunities need to be taken. Milik is consistent, just not in a good way. While he is young enough to improve, he’s still only 26, parting with €50million would be a bit of a gamble, an unnecessary one in the current climate.
Milik is a good goalscorer but he isn’t a great one. Those interested clubs need the latter, not the former.