Gabbia outlines improvement since start of season and thoughts on Rennes

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan defender Matteo Gabbia has spoken about how his game has improved since the start of the season, stressing that he is not impacted by the outside noise.

Gabbia returned from his loan spell at Villarreal six months early when Milan made the decision to bring him back in January following a crisis in terms of injuries to centre-backs, and he has been outstanding since.

Regularly a candidate for man of the match, the Milan academy graduate was among the best players during the recent 1-0 win over Napoli on Sunday night, but he will need to keep those levels against a tricky opponent.

Rennes were languishing near the bottom of Ligue 1 earlier this season as they seemed to struggle to balance their Europa League with domestic duties, but they have since surged to just outside the European places having won every game in 2024.

Gabbia spoke to the reporters present at Milanello alongside head coach Stefano Pioli at a pre-match press conference on the eve of the game, with MilanNews relaying his comments.

You left when you were Gabbia and you came back different. Do you feel the affection of the fans?

“Honestly, at the moment I’m focusing much less on the sidelines, that is, on social media, on television. I’m focusing on what we have to do as players, as professionals.

“I’m happy that we’re winning matches, the season is going well and that’s the most important thing, continuing like this and always doing better.”

What kind of an opponent are Rennes?

“I think they’re a very good, vertical team. They have fast, dynamic players who can put us in difficulty. We have prepared for the match well, we know what awaits us and consequently we will do our best to bring home a victory that can help us in our objective which is qualification.”

What is the key to your performance?

“I think it’s the work and the motivation for the improvement of us players. The consistency you put into everyday life that leads you to have improvements. Theo or Kjaer by my side tomorrow night? The coach will choose (laughs).”

Did your experience at Villarreal help?

“It was the first time I went to another country. It was an important change. I had to be a little more bold, learn completely new things which gave me more confidence. I played more consistently, in a different way. Basically there were a few things that helped me.”

What was your relationship with a veteran such as Raul Albiol like?

“Raul was one of those guys who helped me a lot at Villarreal. He also spoke Italian so especially at the beginning it was easier to talk to him. He’s a very good guy, I have a good relationship with he gave me some advice, therefore it is right to mention his help in this improvement.”

What about Milan’s ‘new’ defensive phase?

“I found the defensive phase with similar foundations to the past. Situations can change with respect to how we play, but honestly I found myself in line with the things we have always done with the coach.”

Are you trying to contribute in build-up too?

“I don’t feel like I’ve improved my build-up play that much. I can still do more and the coach also tells me so. In other things, however, I feel like I’ve improved but it’s also a a question that over time you grow, you play more games, and therefore some situations improve. This is a phase that I faced a little more in Spain due to the style of play they play there.”

Did you return to Milan knowing that you could play as a starter?

“Since I came back I’ve been thinking about working as best as possible. Whether I’m a starter or not is the manager’s decision. My attitude towards daily work doesn’t change much anymore. If I play I’m happier.”

Is your ‘youth’ over given you had to lead the defence with Simic next to you…

“It was nice to lead the defence. At that moment of the match there was help from everyone. Consequently, helping Carlo, who is ‘new’, in this situation is certainly a task that we divided ourselves into more than one.

“Plus, Carlo is an excellent player, and if the coach sends him on the pitch it means he knows what he has to do. 24 years old? I still feel young (laughs).”



Tags AC Milan Matteo Gabbia Milan Rennes


  1. Back at those daya when Gabbia pair with Romagnoli, thought they would be next Maldini -Nesta but was wrong. Perhaps Buongiorno could occupy the tandem italian defender.

    1. Yes he was often drafted-in, in big games when there were injuries and he did well despite having no match practice.
      He has been so good he must be a starter

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