The French goalkeeper has been in the pits since the beginning of October: he is expected to return in March but for Pioli it is a big problem. And someone miscalculated…
Close the door before it’s too late. The alarm went off in Milan, but in vain, at the beginning of a 2023 that has so far been disastrous. The negative flush cost the progressive loss of positions in Serie A, until slipping to sixth place, and the elimination in the Italian Cup.
Next week Tottenham lands at San Siro: given the latest performances, on February 14th it will be necessary to invent something so as not to ruin Valentine’s Day. The bulletins on Mike Maignan follow each other on a weekly basis: we navigate by sight, there is still too much haze, the story has the contours of the case. The Frenchman has been out since the beginning of October due to an injury to the medial twin muscle of his left leg, then there was an injury to the soleus: he is expected to return in March. Mike Peterson Maignan can perform at best in Sanremo, like Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2021. There’s no joking around, the matter imposes a heavy handicap on the Rossoneri.
But will it be only the goalkeeper’s fault? Especially among the reigning Italian champions, who didn’t have a shot on goal in the first 45 minutes against Inter on Sunday? Of course not, but as Ciprian Tatarusanu himself, the current permanent owner, will admit, without Maignan the music changes, and quite a lot. Who is between the posts is not comparable to the others, of course. The role is even more particular if performed by a former midfielder, with well-mannered feet, capable of short and long-range supports, like a true added defender. Born in Cayenne, with a strong personality, Mike has become a Milan idol by dint of saves and assists. He arouses enthusiasm and jokes: “It’s all a Maignan Maignan”, scudetto at the first attempt. Beautiful, idyllic until the new stop sign. Getting by with Tata is an exercise that is sometimes virtuous, but penalizing in the long run. Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara, quick to place other golden deals such as Theo Hernandez and Rafa Leao, this time they got it wrong, perhaps misled by the prospect of a recovery of Maignan during the 50-day break for the World Cup. The signings of Mirante and the unknown Vasquez didn’t change anything. Not even in the January transfer window did we look for a goalkeeper who was up to par. And you can’t expect the Romanian Tatarusanu to transform himself, just to limit himself to his more illustrious compatriots, into the new Helmuth Duckadam, legendary goalkeeper of Steaua champion of Europe in 1986. The duck in the middle of winter added to the mistake in the summer. The trouble is that like Mike, who even from the bench gives indications on active and passive set pieces, there isn’t any around. Paradoxically, someone like Manuel Neuer would need to replace him… Stefano Pioli finds himself forced to change his collective attitude and structure. The problem is not limited between the posts and the small area, but reverberates on the entire game of the frantic Milan.
THE DIFFERENCE WITH THE PAST
The Maignan affair has been underestimated, the other reinforcements don’t help camouflage the flaws. If De Ketelaere scored one or two goals per game, the goalkeeper issue would be perceived as less urgent. In addition to the miscalculations, there are gaps in history: Milan should review their almanacs and palmares. The name of a great goalkeeper is linked to every Rossoneri winning cycle. Lorenzo Buffon with Gre-No-Li in the 1950s, Giorgio Ghezzi with the first Champions Cup in 1963, Fabio Cudicini with Nereo Rocco’s encore in 1969, Ricky Albertosi with the star scudetto in 1979, Giovanni Galli and Seba Rossi with the Invincibles of Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello, Nelson Dida with the two Champions under the guidance of Carletto Ancelotti in 2003 and 2007. A prestigious gallery in which he would not have disfigured Gigio Donnarumma, European champion in blue now at PSG. Super Mike, at 27, has time to enter the Rossoneri Hall of Fame, too bad he’s still in the pits. Leaving him without a strong replacement was an imprudence: the budgets will be made in June, but Milan should have kept the unexpected to a minimum. Now the door creaks, to fix it takes a diabolical enterprise.
February 8 – 2.36pm
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