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Should we even bother with Badelj?

The Croatia midfielder seems awfully close to a move away, but could be a key cog if he ends up staying.

SSC Napoli v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A
Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

I genuinely didn’t expect to write one of these for Milan Badelj, but here we are. After his agent Maksim Joksimović spent the past 18 months or so carrying on a one-man crusade to try and get his client a transfer to AC Milan, furiously slagging Fiorentina as he did so. The Viola, in response, didn’t budge, and that patience may have paid off: Badelj fired his loudmouthed agent back in June, which seemed to open the door for a Bad Elf stay.

However, it now seems that Milan are considering a bid for Badelj as a replacement for the injured Lucas Biglia. The arrival of Marco Benassi certainly indicates that the Croatia midfielder could be on the outs, so we could finally witness the move that he’s been clamoring for. At the very least, it’ll make the Viola a bit less of a punchline, as the hard line Badelj’s former agent took will be clearly demonstrated to have failed as a way to force a move; instead, a more measure and polite approach seems to have triumphed.

On the off chance that Milan sticks around, we know exactly what to expect from him. He’s a very good player, but he’s also the least-flashy midfielder I’ve ever seen. He wins the ball with his intelligent positioning and moves it around quickly. In Stefano Pioli’s 4-2-3-1, he’ll have less responsibility to create than he did last year under Paulo Sousa. With his positional discipline, he should be the perfect complement to Jordan Veretout, who tends to motor forward a bit more. He’ll give us the same quietly brilliant performances that he produces week in and week out, and will be one of the finest players wearing purple.

But again, we don’t think he’ll be on the roster come the first of September.