Why did the former successor of Inzaghi become an Italian talent?

In the striker, born at the end of the last century, he was once the darling of fate. Between the teasing of the times and wandering, he was quickly abandoned into an outcast.

On January 3, 2018, Patrick Cutroone blew out 20 birthday candles. Six days earlier, he had scored the winner in a Milan derby: it was the 2017-18 Coppa Italia quarter-final, and towards the end of the first half of extra time, Suso curled a pass into the box and Kutrone burst from behind Skriniar to face Handanovic in front of goal.

Cutroone took off his shirt after the goal. For AC Milan, this goal means a lot. It was one of the club's most chaotic seasons in recent years, with the Chinese management spending a lot of money to bring in 11 players from the transfer market, but not good results. Unlike the new signings, Cutroone did not let AC Milan spend a penny on the transfer fee.

Pipo's shadow

Back in the summer of 2017, Cutroone, who played only five minutes in Serie A, came to China with the first team to compete in the International Champions Cup. At the Shenzhen Universiade Centre, AC Milan welcomed Bayern Munich, a veteran acquaintance Carlo Ancelotti, who surprisingly won 4-0, with 19-year-old Cutrone scoring two goals.

The excellent performance of the summer warm-up games allowed Cutroone to establish himself in Milanello. At first, he was only the third striker of the team, but with Andre Silva unable to find the feeling, Calinic was in erratic form, and Cutroone became the first choice for the center position. In the 2017-18 season, Cutroone scored 10 league goals and scored a total of 18 goals for the team in all competitions, crowning the team's top scorer and becoming Milan's biggest gain of that season.

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The goal of the Milan derby perfectly reflected Cutroone's technical style. He made a total of 90 appearances for AC Milan, scoring 27 goals, 24 of which came from a single touch! Since Inzaghi retired in 2012, only this young man wearing the number 63 shirt can remind Milan fans of the "super Pipo" of yesteryear. Cutroone's talent was summed up in a fatal blow in front of goal: his precise judgment of where his teammates' passing routes landed almost did not match his immature age. Cutroone quietly came to the box, found holes in the position of the opponent's defender, observed his teammates with afterlight, and always appeared in the right position.

In the 2017-18 season, Cutroone also held a magical record: despite the team's poor record that year, Milan could always get three points as long as he scored. Seeing that their own children had become lucky generals, the Rossoneri did not choose to press the treasure on Kutroone. In the summer of 2018, AC Milan was taken over by Elliott Fund as Chinese capital failed to pay its debts in time. Soon, the first big deal for the new club was born: Milan sent Bonucci back to Juventus for Cardara and signed Higuain on loan.

The outcasts of the changing situation

On August 3, 2018, Higuain and Caldara carried red and black strips to a balcony in Piazza del Duomo in Milan. It was a sunny afternoon and the square was packed with enthusiastic fans, but Cutroone was not among the celebratory crowds. With the arrival of Higuain, Andre Silva was loaned to Sevilla, Calinić was sold to Atletico Madrid, and Cutrone won the competition for the first choice of three, but he faced a more serious situation than the previous season: before joining Milan, "Little Smoker" scored 111 goals in five seasons of Serie A career, and he was undoubtedly Milan's striker choice.

Higuain's arrival has clearly squeezed Cutrone's space in the team. The Argentine quickly showed his quality, but his honeymoon period with Milan was short-lived, and after suffering a muscle injury at the start of the season, he lost a point in the round of 12 of the league against his old club Juventus, and his psychological defence was broken. In the end, Higuain left in a hurry after half a season, ending his short red and black career, but Milan, who sent away the "little smoker", brought in the "musketeer" Piontek from Poland in that winter window.

Piontec was Serie A's biggest discovery in 2018-19. In the first half of the league, he scored 13 goals in 19 games at Genoa, and after arriving at Milanello, he scored nine more goals in half a season. It seems that Milan, who is eager to find the best weapon to attack the city. What about Cutroone? He has always lived in the shadow of his rivals, playing less time than in the previous season, and after scoring against Parma in the round of 14, he has never been able to find his way in the league.

Cutroone sturdily hit the "second-grade wall". Born to score goals, he needs to keep scoring goals to strengthen his confidence, but AC Milan can't give him enough playing time. On the other hand, aside from scoring, Cutroone has provided too little help to the team, he is unable to play the offensive fulcrum, he is not very adaptable on the wing, the effect of pressing up front is quite average, and he has always been one of the players with the lowest pass success rate and the highest number of mistakes in the team. In the summer of 2019, Giampaolo replaced Gattuso as the former Samp boss wanted to promote the 4312 formation he was famous for at Milan, requiring a more mobile striker to pair with positive centre-forward Piontek.

The future of AC Milan, and the future of Cutroone, have finally become two parallel lines. The Wolves tossed the olive branch very well in time and the Rossoneri did not hesitate much. On July 30, Kutronone said goodbye to his parent team in a paragraph on social media, which began with the following sentence: "I have a lot to say, but I don't know where to start." "Cutroone arrived at AC Milan at the age of eight, promoted to the first team at the age of 19, became the top scorer of the season at the age of 20, was waived by the team at the age of 21 - everything came too quickly.

Lost in wandering

Cutroone brought AC Milan a transfer fee of 18 million euros. Two days later, the Rossoneri signed Rafael Leon from Lille. After another two months, Giampaolo was dismissed and Piontek gradually lost after donning the number 9 shirt and was sold to Hertha Berlin in the following winter window. Pioli's era began, Ibrahimovic returned with the aura of a savior, trudging through the dark night for several years before finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel after celebrating the club's 120th birthday.

Later, AC Milan "exchanged" Leon with Cutroone money, as the number one star, led Milan to win last season's Serie A title, and was also named league MVP - all this has nothing to do with Cutroone. Cutroone went to Wolverhampton and became an exotic addition to a team featuring Portuguese players. Wolves fans were quick to offer the Italian striker an exclusive song: "Patrick Cutrone, he loves pizza and he loves pasta, this guy is magical!" ”

Unfortunately, the magic of Cutrone only stays in the ballads of the fans. Nuno's team is based on 343, with Iberian stars such as Jota, Neves, Moutinho and Adama Traore in the midfield, and the in-form Raul Jimenez starting centre-forward, and the Mexican scored 30 Premier League goals in the two seasons between 2018 and 2020.

Without much suspense, Cutroone lost the competition within the team, and his Premier League journey lasted only half a season. The next stop is on loan at Fiorentina: Cutrone was in good form in the second half of the 2019-20 season, scoring in the Coppa Italia as soon as he arrived, helping his side eliminate Atalanta and creating points in the league game against his old club Milan to help the team equalise. In July, Cutroone scored three consecutive goals in the league sprint, and there was hope of a recovery for the talented striker.

However, Cutroone's purple lily career could not escape the end of high and low. In 2020-21, Kutronone will need to compete with equally young Kwame and Vlahovic for a position in the forward line. In Yakini's 352 system, Kwame is the team's starting striker; Later, Prandley replaced Yakini as the coach, who preferred Vlahovich. Completely forgotten, Cutroone returned to Wolves and was loaned to Valencia in La Liga for the second half of the season. It was a team that was clearly in chaos and the Italians were still not getting a chance.

The near country is even more timid

In the 2020-21 season, Cutroone played in all three leagues, playing for Fiorentina, Wolves and Valencia, but did not score a single goal. It's been a nightmare year. Cutroone's market value has plummeted, and he is no longer the talent who once played the leading role in the Serie A giants, but a knockout for European second-tier teams. In the summer of 2021, the former Milan youth elite joined a relegation team for the first time in his career: he was once the main player in the promotion of Marnepoli, but with the manager Andrea Zoli changing the "Christmas tree" in the second half of the season, Cutroone once again lost his position, scoring only three goals throughout the season - the team's number one striker, Pinamonti, another outcast of Milan City.

On January 3, 2023, Cutroone celebrated his 25th birthday. Today, he plays for his hometown side Cuomo. At this ambitious club, he finally got the main vest he had been chasing for years, scoring six goals in 27 games, but at what cost? Cuterone, who is committed to Serie B, has struggled to win the favor of Serie A teams again. From Andrea Silva to Calinić to Higuain and Piontec, the red-and-black Cutrone failed to cross the ever-higher wall in front of him; From Wolves to Fiorentina, to Valencia, Empoli and Coomo, Cutroone, who left AC Milan, stepped further and further down, finally losing his former luster in the fog.

Cutroone's best friend is "contemporary" Locatelli, whose birthdays are only five days away, and met at the age of 11 in the Milan echelon, and together they walked the thorny road to the first team and attacked the city for the Rossoneri. Locatelli rose to fame earlier than Cutroone: back in the 2016-17 season, he played as a regular at Milan and scored the winning goal against Juventus. Locatelli experienced what would happen to Cutroone ahead of the future, having been robbed of his place by Lucas Villa, who joined in the summer of 2017, and was loaned to Sassuolo a year later with a mandatory buyout clause.

Cutrone and Locatelli once carried unlimited expectations, but both actually showed up at AC Milan at the wrong time. In the summer of 2019, Locatelli was officially bought out by Sassuolo, who grew to become one of the best midfield commanders in Serie A under Dezerbi and was crowned European champion in a blue shirt two years later; Cutroone was sold to Wolves and a long wandering career began. On Wembley's Champions Night, Locatelli made a video call to Cutroone, a scene that was poetic but also made people realize that fate can be both generous and cruel to a talented young striker.

Author: Shen Tianhao (from Italy)

This article was originally published in Football Weekly Issue 862

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