With AC Milan’s recent injury woes, there has been a need for defensive additions in January, and Matteo Gabbia’s return will provide some immediate coverage at the back. He gave some insight into his return in a recent interview.
There is no other way of putting it. Milan’s defensive struggles turned into a crisis, and now it’s a plague almost. Nearly every central defender that has stepped onto the field for the Rossoneri this season has faced an injury, and the length of absence has commonly been agonising for Milan.
Currently, Fikayo Tomori, Malick Thiaw and Pierre Kalulu are sidelined, leaving Pioli to work with scraps. As a result, Theo Hernandez has been regularly shifted into central defence, and there has been a reliance on an injury-prone Simon Kjaer alongside him, if not Jan-Carlo Simic.
Matteo Gabbia’s return does not instantly cure the plague at the back, but it offers some support, and with Milan wanting to go far in the Europa League, in the quarter-final of the Coppa Italia, depth is much welcomed.
The central defender spoke to MilanTV after his early return from his loan spell with Villarreal, and his comments were relayed by MilanNews.
How was your time in Spain?
“I had a great time. When I left I didn’t imagine it. I also had various experiences with different coaches who helped me. I was happy and I played: a good experience that I will carry in my heart.”
His friendship with Pobega…
“There is a friendship that goes beyond the field. Although distant, we have always been very close. In September, during the break, he came to Valencia, and then when I came home we almost always went to dinner together. Our teammates are also very close. Now he has had this injury, but with his professionalism, he will come back well and fit and will give us a big hand for the end of the season.”
Pioli’s usage of young players…
“I’ve been there myself. Seeing all these young and strong lads, with so much personality, is always a pleasure. They are guys I already knew and I hope they can give us a daily hand to make the team stronger and more competitive.”
How are you feeling currently?
“I have always trained well and tried to improve every day, even in Spain, to be the best player I can be. I know the environment, I know my teammates, I know the coach: these days of training will refresh my memory on what there is to do. But I know where I am and consequently, I’m ready to start these final six months.”
The demanding schedule…
“I was lucky enough to play every three days in Spain. It’s tough because you play so much, but it’s nice and exciting because you always have new challenges in front of you. I think we are still in the running in all competitions and this must give us the desire to come to training, the ambition to do the best we can.”
Thoughts ahead of the game against Empoli
“A difficult match, which we will play at 12.30 on a difficult pitch and against a tough opponent who is playing for salvation. We have to take the game in the best way and try to field the best version of ourselves and bring home the three points.”