Riccardo Monguzzi has recalled how he managed to transform Matteo Gabbia into a centre-back during his time as a coach for Milan Primavera.
The defender made his Serie A debut for Milan on Monday night, coming on in the first half of the 1-0 win over Torino due to the injury sustained by Simon Kjaer.
Gabbia is highly rated at the Rossoneri and is even an Italy U21 international, and he owes a lot to the coaches who have helped develop him along the way.
Riccardo Monguzzi spent six years in the AC Milan youth sector and several players passed by under his leadership who now play in Serie A or who are still professionals between Serie B and Serie C.
Among these is Gabbia, who Monguzzi coaches at U17 level, and the 20-year-old’s debut gave him a great satisfaction.
“For the players like Donnarumma, Locatelli, Cutrone and Gabbia, in addition to many others, first of all Mauro Bianchessi and Filippo Galli should be thanked,” he told MilanNews.
“The first knew how to see the talent from Milan in them while the second gave him important technical and personal training through the work of the coaches and the technical-methodological area that we had at Vismara.”
“That group of ’99 [players born in 1999] had the two most prominent elements in Matteo and Emanuele Torrasi, also because the comparison was often made with the class of ’98 members, which was considered by all professionals as the most prolific. The two of them were joined to the group of ’98 because they had something more.”
It was Monguzzi’s idea oto change Gabbia from midfielder to central defender, and he explained how the process went.
“Together with the club we chose to place him in that role. We talked a lot, almost clashing, because we thought he had the skills to be a central defender, which was fundamental for our way of playing.
“I told him that he had the technical and physical skills to do it. He also played as a mezzala in the youth national teams and, at that age, he believed that role was more suited to him. Slowly, we made him understand that he could excel in the role of central defender.”