22 Defender Milan Italy
2014 has been...
…okay but underwhelming.
At times, Mattia De Sciglio cuts somewhat of a dash. When he was given an extended chance in the Milan first team back in 2012 we were impressed. Here was a player who looked comfortable on either flank, liked to get on the ball and had genuine pace. This was by no means a Milan vintage that would live long in the football memory, but he looked like a reason for hope. He was an easy choice for the 100, a really great prospect at a high-profile club, and there was no way he was going to go backwards, was there?
Last season he plateaued thanks to a combination of injuries that prevented a run of games long enough to get back to peak form, and the stuttering form of those around him. Some of the fizz and whistle was gone from a full-back who at one point looked like he’d never run out of it. After his breakthrough 2012/13 season there was talk of Real Madrid bidding as much as €20m for him, over the last year some of the initial excitement has died. At no point has he been particularly bad and injury at this stage of his career is understandable for a quick player who plays a lot of football, but we dared to dream and it hasn’t really come off.
After a summer at the World Cup that saw him make only one appearance for Italy, this season has started okay, but no more than that. He keeps giving a 6 out of 10 performance in games where it feels like he could have been a 7 or 8. The basics are all there and we still believe there’s greatness within, but maybe the stop/start nature of last season has killed some of his confidence. Whatever the issue he’s now a part of his club’s first team and the international squad for the longer term, time to take it to the next level.
The comparisons he gets as a talented full-back at Milan are crippling. As a young player all you want to do is play and establish your own identity, to be called the “heir apparent” to Paolo Maldini just seems cruel. He’s also constantly judged against Mauro Tassotti, so whether he plays right or left he really can’t win. He needs to show the precociousness again that was so impressive on his emergence and not fade into the shadow of unfair and lazy comparisons. He is his own man; we just hope he knows it.
This may seem a critical review, overly critical perhaps, but it should be reiterated that it’s only because he’s been average when we know he can be so much more. This Milan are not *that* Milan we want them to be, Mattia De Sciglio is not *that* handsome left-back or combative right-back some think he should be. Both club and player need to emerge from their collective hang-ups and establish a new legacy for this era, and that can’t come soon enough for those of us with a lot of Serie A love. He’s also being trusted at international level when fit and in form, and mentally that confidence in his abilities could help him go a long way.
So a C- as a D would feel cruel in the light of the niggling injuries, but he isn’t kicking on as we hoped. We’re still sure there’s a good player there, we’re still daring to dream, but we worried he could just as easily flat-line as burst again. He’s at a club with history in a position with pedigree – can he live with the weight of that? We hope so and we hope he believes he’s capable. Could be special, could slowly resign himself to becoming average, we’ll wait and see.
“Already an essential player for club and country, De Sciglio has all the tools to join Milan’s pantheon of defensive greats, sharing the cool, calm & collected air of Baresi, Maldini et al” - Adam Digby
"De Sciglio has made more tackles than any other Milan player in Serie A this season (32)." - OptaJoe
C- A good player who we’re no longer sure will become a great one, he genuinely could go either way, here’s hoping the injuries stay away.
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