Earlier this month, Patrick Cutrone admitted, "I hope to stay at Milan but the club will decide. I’ll do whatever it takes, though, to convince everyone." The 19-year-old striker couldn't have done much more in Sunday night's Serie A opener at Crotone.
By the interval in the game at Ezio Scida, Cutrone had been directly involved in all three goals.
It was he who had drawn the foul that both resulted in the dismissal of Federico Ceccherini and allowed Franck Kessie to open the scoring from the penalty spot just six minutes in.
By the midway point of the first half, he had bagged his first Serie A goal with a near-post header from a Suso cross before then returning the favour by teeing up the Spaniard to make it 3-0, after ghosting in behind the Crotone backline to collect Ricardo Rodriguez's searching pass.
In doing so, Cutrone became only the second player born in 1998, after Borussia Dortmund starlet Christian Pulisic, to both score and assist in the same game this season.
It was an impressive feat, one made all the more remarkable for the fact that Cutrone had only previously made one, five-minute appearance in Italy's top flight, against Bologna on the final day of the 2016-17 campaign.
There was also the fact that the Primavera product had appeared certain to leave Milan this summer only for Rossoneri coach Vincenzo Montella to take a real shine to the Como native. Indeed, the former Italy forward saw something of himself in Cutrone.
"Patrick is growing a lot and really wants to be a protagonist," Montella mused. "His characteristics remind me of myself when I was his age, although he’s perhaps hungrier for the goal than I was at that time!"
Cutrone's goal-scoring instincts were there for all to see during a pre-season friendly against Bayern Munich, in which he netted twice.
Even by that stage, Montella had seen enough to convince him that Cutrone had something to offer the first-team squad during the 2017-18 campaign.
"I have no intention of sending Cutrone away," he stated. "I believe he can grow a great deal staying here at Milan, but the only chance of an exit would depend on the transfer market."
Indeed, with Milan in the midst of a €200 million summer spending, Montella was aware that his squad would have to be trimmed and that a young striker was an obvious candidate to be sent out on loan.
Coincidentally, it was Crotone who pursued him most vigorously and sporting director Giuseppe Ursino admitted before kick-off on Sunday night: "We’re giving it our all to sign him, but the matter is no longer up to us.
"It’s down to Milan now. We want Cutrone, we’ve sought him constantly this summer and hope to seal a deal next week."
Ursino's pre-game optimism was somewhat understandable. Nikola Kalinic is set to arrive at Milanello on Monday, while €38m man Andre Silva was only used as a substitute because he had starred in the 6-0 demolition of Shkendija in the Europa League on Thursday, meaning Cutrone will be third choice striker at best this term.
However, Ursino's hopes of signing the striker must have vanquished by the break because on a night on which Milan showcased eight new summer signings, it was the 19-year-old who had cost the visitors nothing who proved their most valuable player.