The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at Chelsea’s three AC Milan targets in Olivier Giroud, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Hakim Ziyech, as the Rossoneri eye a sensational triple swoop.

AC Milan and Chelsea are among European clubs that are expected to undergo a busy summer transfer window. A key insight between these two clubs, though, is that they appear to have built a good relationship over the past few seasons.

The successful loan spell of Fikayo Tomori, followed by his permanent signing, clearly helped them further their relation. And according to Sky Sports, as cited by transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, AC Milan are hoping to use that to their advantage as they launch a move to sign Olivier Giroud.

In addition to the Chelsea forward, Milan are also interested in securing deals to sign Tiemoue Bakayoko and Hakim Ziyech. However, the Rossoneri are yet to make any advances in that regard. They are not expecting any discount from Chelsea either, even though the Blues are keen on getting rid of these fringe players in light of Thomas Tuchel’s desire to undergo a potential overhaul.

Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a closer at Bakayoko, Giroud and Ziyech’s situation at Stamford Bridge and the likelihood of each’s potential switch from Chelsea to Milan this summer transfer window.

Olivier Giroud

Chelsea's French striker Olivier Giroud attends a training session at Chelsea's Cobham training facility in Stoke D'Abernon, southwest of London on November 26, 2019, on the eve of their UEFA Champions League Group H football match against Valencia. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Set for a shock exit? (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Olivier Giroud has never been the leading figure at Chelsea like he was at Arsenal. However, his experience and reliability have always been valued, with the forward making 119 competitive appearances for the club. He also saw his contract getting extended earlier this summer, meaning his current deal at Stamford Bridge runs until 2022.

The extension was a long-time coming as new coach Thomas Tuchel was never a big fan of Tammy Abraham, who is now a target of Newcastle United among other clubs. In addition, last summer’s marquee signing, Timo Werner, has not been convincing enough, making Giroud the number one alternative in the goalscoring department.

The Frenchman may not be an ideal fit under Tuchel’s tactical setup that requires the number nine to work his socks off. Still, his dominance inside the penalty area gives the German an excellent plan B, one where the talented wingers and wing-backs can always attack the channels and provide crosses into the box.

Possibility of Chelsea exit

Having decided to extend his contract, it remains unlikely that Chelsea will want to sanction the exit of Olivier Giroud. They are already having trouble in their pursuit of top targets such as Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku and Erling Haaland, who is expected to cost almost €200 million in the summer. The departure of Giroud could further deepen their woes, forcing them to find another experienced striker in the market.

Possibility of joining AC Milan

From the player’s perspective, a move to Milan won’t be much of a downgrade for Giroud. The Rossoneri have returned to the UEFA Champions League and have recently had to deal with the exit of Mario Mandzukic. It will open up an opportunity for the Frenchman to fight for a place in the first-team, although it remains unlikely that he would want to become an understudy of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Hakim Ziyech

Ajax' Hakim Ziyech looks on prior to the Dutch Eredivisie football match between PEC Zwolle and Ajax Amsterdam in Zwolle, The Netherlands, on December 8, 2018. (Photo by Jasper RUHE / ANP / AFP) / Netherlands OUT (Photo credit should read JASPER RUHE/AFP/Getty Images)

Hakim Ziyech clearly hasn’t got going at Chelsea. (Photo credit should read JASPER RUHE/AFP/Getty Images)

Hakim Ziyech has had difficulties in getting to grips with English football after joining Chelsea last summer. He started out well, but his influence began to fade, with Frank Lampard unable to make him a vital cog in the club’s creative department. The arrival of Tuchel made it worse for the playmaker, who mustered only 625 minutes of league football under the German.

Ziyech has fallen behind Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic in the pecking order in the current roster. It appears his dynamism and flair are not ideally suited to Tuchel’s tactical setup that requires hard work from attacking midfielders as well as a knack for covering a lot of ground.

Possibility of Chelsea exit

Following their spending spree last summer, Chelsea may require offloading some fringe players in the team, especially at least one from the stacked creative department. While Ross Barkley is the automatic choice, Ziyech is also a top candidate, given that he is a misfit in the current Chelsea setup. A move away from Stamford Bridge, therefore, is very plausible.

Possibility of joining AC Milan

AC Milan will be an ideal fit for Hakim Ziyech from a tactical perspective. The Rossoneri have just lost Hakan Calhanoglu to their arch-rivals Inter Milan while Brahim Diaz has returned to Real Madrid. It paves the way for the Chelsea playmaker to become an almost automatic starter next season. Milan, however, might face difficulties affording his €7 million per year wage packet.

Tiemoue Bakayoko

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 14: Tiemoue Bakayoko of Chelsea arrives prior to the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Chelsea at Selhurst Park on October 14, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

The ultimate outcast. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

While Giroud and Ziyech still have some semblance of importance in Chelsea’s first-team plans, Tiemoue Bakayoko is truly an outcast who hasn’t quite been able to establish himself as a proper Premier League midfielder since arriving from Monaco. He spent the most recent season on loan at Napoli, featuring in 32 Serie A matches under Gennaro Gattuso.

Bakayoko didn’t fare particularly badly at Napoli, but the departure of Gattuso means of the Partenopei likely won’t make any effort to bring him back to Naples. The midfielder, therefore, will return to Stamford Bridge in the summer and will surely force a decision on his future from the board.

In the current team, the Frenchman will be considered merely a backup for Jorginho. He may even fall behind Billy Gilmour in the pecking order, although Tuchel is yet to get a glimpse of him since joining Chelsea.

Possibility of Chelsea exit

Bakayoko is destined to leave Stamford Bridge in the summer as he has no future in the current Chelsea team. This is, in fact, the only opportunity for the Blues to cash in on him, as the midfielder’s contract expires at the end of next season. And after signing him for €40 million, the club certainly wouldn’t welcome the idea of offloading him for free next year.

Possibility of joining AC Milan

AC Milan seems like a reasonable option for Bakayoko for multiple reasons. The most prominent one is that he has already played for Rossoneri during the 2018/19 season. He was even quite successful, and given his experience of playing in Italian football, he is unlikely to face any difficulties in settling back in.

Bakayoko may have to compete with Franck Kessie, Ismael Bennacer,  Sandro Tonali and a few others for a place in the first team. But, it won’t be surprising to see him return to San Siro at all.

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