Free-kick expert Calhanoglu can help AC Milan end Juventus' Serie A domination

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The Turkey international is the latest signing for the San Siro side and his prowess from dead-ball situations is perfect for helping Milan challenge


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AC Milan's transfer dealings have been in the headlines all summer, but all because of Mino Raiola and Gianluigi Donnarumma, rather than the millions being spent by the club's new Chinese owners Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux.

Businessman Yonghong Li has already invested well over €100 million in new signings, with Turkey midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu the latest newcomer following his €25m move from Bayer Leverkusen. Showing no signs of stopping, Milan have brought in Mateo Musacchio, Ricardo Rodriguez and Andre Silva permanently, with loans for Franck Kessie and Fabio Borini.

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Milan may lose the most promising goalkeeper in world football during the window, but will be a much stronger team next season than last thanks to the clever captures they have made this summer. Turkey international Calhanoglu is an excellent signing, and his set-piece prowess should help Vincenzo Montella's side score more goals and pick up more points as they challenge Juventus for the Serie A title.

GFX Hakan Calhanoglu AC Milan Shirt Burst

Juventus have won the last six Italian titles, recording back-to-back domestic trebles, but Montella's Milan are a much stronger prospect. Having finished sixth last season, they will be much transformed following their summer of spending. Calhanoglu will be an integral part of their return to the top.

The 23-year-old bizarrely missed the second half of last season with Leverkusen, having received a four-month ban by FIFA for a breach of contract when he signed for Karlsruhe six years earlier. Before his suspension, he had been in excellent form, scoring six and assisting five more in 15 Bundesliga games.

Three of those assists came from dead-ball situations as Calhanoglu continued to prove himself as the best free-kick taker in world football. Since 2014-15, only two players have more goals from free-kicks: Lionel Messi and Miralem Pjanic. Both have eight goals, with Calhanoglu just one behind - even with half a season missed through suspension.

GFX Hakan Calhanoglu Leverkusen 16-17 Stats

He has provided seven assists from free-kicks in the past three seasons as well, and will give Milan a set-piece threat every time they receive a foul in the opposition half. After training is finished, he stays behind to put in extra time honing his free-kick skills, and has listed free-kick scoring record holder Juninho Pernambucano as his inspiration.

“I watch set-piece highlights online, I study how Cristiano Ronaldo takes his free-kicks but my biggest idol is Juninho," he told FIFA in 2013. "He was a pioneer of the style of free-kick I am trying to achieve."

Calhanoglu is a scoring threat from anywhere in the opposition half. He either delivers pinpoint balls into the area for team-mates to finish or else can power home from distance. In 2014, while at Hamburg, he netted a 41-yard free-kick against Borussia Dortmund, deciding to shoot when no team-mate made themselves available.

As well as his dead ball expertise, he will bring an impressive attacking game to the San Siro. Five of his goals last season were from open play, while he created 29 chances for team-mates in his 15 appearances. He also boasted a 75 per cent passing accuracy in the opposition half, and made 116 passes into the opposition third.

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After signing for Milan, €38m striker Andre Silva revealed his intent to defeat Juventus and win Serie A: "With the level of the team, I hope to win the League, to win as many games as possible."

With Calhanoglu supporting him in attack, an end to Juventus's six-year dominance finally seems possible.

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