TMW: From Botman to Thiaw – how Milan stumbled into a €6m bargain

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan have been left celebrating another bargain find in Malick Thiaw but things could have been very different in the summer window, a report claims.

TMW recall how Thiaw passed his latest and arguably toughest test on Sunday when he faced Atalanta striker Rasmus Hojlund, one of the hottest talents in Serie A. From 10 to 27 February – an 18-day period – Thiaw has helped Milan recover from a crisis and now looks like an undroppable starter.

Thiaw was Milan’s penultimate signing of the summer window and he was signed for just €6m from Schalke 04 on a permanent deal with a contract until 2027. However, Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara for months had only one real target for the centre-back role: Sven Botman.

At the end of June, when the negotiation with the Rossoneri were in the final stages, the Dutch centre-back gave in to Newcastle United’s huge offer and moved to England, causing Milan to change strategy entirely and spend over €30m on Charles De Ketelaere for the playmaker role.

Despite moving for the Belgian and diverting the investment to a different role, Milan thought about signing Thiaw the day after Botman’s move to Newcastle. At the end of June, Schalke asked for €10m while two months later Milan bought him for €6m, including bonuses.

Other profiles were evaluated from Mattia Viti to Francesco Acerbi as well as Maxime Esteve and Japhet Tanganga, but when the news came through about the terms of the Thiaw deal it was closed in a few hours.

Tags AC Milan Malick Thiaw Sven Botman


  1. It’s fair to say that if we were choosing between Botman and de Ketelaere though, only one of those currently looks like they were worth that investment. Hopefully CDK can push on in future seasons to dominate that position.

    1. We didn’t choose CDK over Botman. We passed on Botman as he became too expensive. Only after that we decided to dedicate funds tobuy CDK.

  2. Maldini, Masara, and Moncada brought plenty of bargain bin. From Kalulu, Maignan, Tonali, Kjaer, Theo, Bennacer, Tonali, Krunic, Giroud, and now Thiaw.

    But some ‘fans’ always stuck on Dollaruma, Cashie, Snake Kebab who wasn’t brought by Maldini and Masara and they also left because they choose money over Milan.

  3. Even in terms of technical and tactical quality, Malik is better than Botman, he can use both feet properly and is more calm and composed, he will be a great player, and a Milan legend, and he was very cheap, that’s why sometimes it’s good to look elsewhere, with coaching and guidance a player will blossom…

  4. I did not know about Thiaw before he was purchased, however if he is the captain of the German U21 team I was always confident that he would be useful.

    I feel the same way about Adil, if he had success in France it is because he has the quality. He should get the same opportunities which Messias and Salemakers have received.

  5. Stumbled? Come on man. He’s always been good. When this transfer broke, my comment was wow I can’t believe we got this guy! I was stunned. You could have seen his potential at a young age. Always trust in the scouts at Milan, they know what they are doing. Also, he can play DM as well.

    Besides this is right up the new era we’re in, buying cheap players with huge potential. Btw why would Schalke ask for 10m when his release clause is around 9m ? That makes no sense.

    1. “Btw why would Schalke ask for 10m when his release clause is around 9m ? That makes no sense.”

      Makes perfect sense. Why wouldn’t they try to get as much money as they can? What wouldn’t have made sense is asking for 5M€ for a player with 10M€ release clause. 😀

    2. Any time a club asks for more than the release clause, it is because they would be willing to accept that price but in a payment structure that is more favorable to the buying club, usually a series of installments. If they buy the player strictly using the release clause, they are required to have that money cash-in-hand to transfer to the account of the selling club immediately.

    3. I agree with your overall comment though. It was clearly a shrewd signing from the beginning, and even his first appearance last fall–I believe at the end of the Verona game–Thiaw was imperious in winning several aerial duels. I thought he looked a different class of player even in just those 10 minutes of defending deep.

      I believe he grew an additional 1-2 inches in his first couple seasons in the Schalke senior squad, which is when he was transitioned from DM to playing CB. It shows in his calmness on the ball, and obviously the height has only added to his dynamism in the air.

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