PIPPO MILAN'S MAN

AC MILAN finalised a deal to take Filippo Inzaghi to the Giuseppe Meazza stadium on Monday, and Opta feel that the Italian international could provide the attacking impetus needed for a title challenge in 2001-02.

Inzaghi has been a regular goalscorer in Serie A for the past five years. He made his name at Atalanta, becoming Italy's top marksman with 24 strikes in the 1996-97 campaign, form that subsequently earned him a move to Juve the following summer.

During his four-year association with Juventus, Inzaghi formed a great understanding with Alessandro Del Piero - a lethal striking partnership which has often been recreated at international level. However, the pacy forward struggled to retain his place in the bianconeri's starting XI for much of the 2000-01 season, after the emergance of French international David Trezeguet. Consequently, Inzaghi fired only 11 goals over the course of the season - his worst tally in a Juve shirt.

Still, Inzaghi did manage to find the back of the net with a healthy 16% of his shots in Serie A, a proportion which is better than Del Piero's, as well as the man he is likely to replace at Milan, Oliver Bierhoff.

Inzaghi showed off his finishing skills to an even greater effect in the Champions League, scoring with a fantastic 42% of his efforts on goal. That ratio was far better than other top continental strikers such as Raul, Giovane Elber and probable strike partner at Milan Andrei Shevchenko could manage, and helped Inzaghi grab five goals in just six games.

And even when he wasn't hovering around the opposition penalty box, the 27-year old linked up with his team-mates productively. He foraged well in wide areas and reached a colleague in an impressive 30% of his crosses - a better ratio than supposedly more creative players at Juve such as Del Piero and Zinedine Zidane - and set up four goals.

The skill and speed of Inzaghi could well prove crucial to Milan's hopes of success in the league and UEFA Cup next term. Indeed, the former Piacenza player's experience should be integral to new coach Fatih Terim's plans as he builds a squad capable of challenging for honours.

But despite a fee in the region of £17 million fee, Inzaghi will not be able to take his place in the Milan side for granted, As well as Shevchenko, Bierhoff and former Atletico Madrid star Jose Mari, they have already acquired the services of Spanish international Javi Moreno for 2001-02. But Inzaghi has lived with similar pressure for years at Juve, and should thrive in a new-look rossoneri team next term.

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