Gabbia picks out best qualities in team-mates, discusses Milan trophy target and reveals reason for shirt number

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan defender Matteo Gabbia believes that he is ‘more aware on and off the pitch’ thanks to recent growth but admitted he can ‘further improve’.

Gabbia was called upon to face Roma and Venezia due to the recent Covid outbreak and performed competently against both, and then put in another assured performance during the midweek Coppa Italia victory against Genoa at San Siro.

The 22-year-old certainly has a bright future ahead of him but one thing that he does need is consistent playing time, which has led to speculation that he could be loaned out to another Serie A club before the month is done, though Fikayo Tomori’s month-long absence seems to have ruled out the chances of that happening.

Gabbia gave an interview to Polish sports newspaper Przegląd Sportowy about his recent development and his growth as both a player and a person, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.

“I can say that I am more aware, on and off the pitch. I have grown as a player and as a person. However, I am convinced that I can further improve my qualities and become a more complete player,” he said.

Gabbia’s grandparents played an important role in his career…

“Definitely yes. They are football fans and AC Milan fans. As a child I used to go by bus to San Siro with them and my cousin to watch the matches. I was born in Fagnano Olona, a town not far from Milan. I did it every weekend. Then, as a teenager, I went to the Academy of Milan. I realised my dream and theirs.”

This is the reason for the number 46 on his shirt…

“1946 is the year my grandmother was born. It influenced me and my passion. I am strongly attached to her. My father is also a Milan fan, while my mother is less interested in football.”

Milan, after a difficult end to 2021, have carried on their title push…

“We have shown, once again, that we are strong. We have achieved three victories in a row and played some good matches. Considering the away match won against Venice, I remember that at the ‘Penzo’ stadium Roma lost and Juventus drew. We did our job, but it wasn’t easy. We kept our place on the front line.

“Also, I want to emphasise that we have never been unbalanced, especially in the period in which we scored only against Genoa and Salernitana. We have always focused on correcting mistakes so as not to repeat them.”

Gabbia went on to talk about Milan’s targets…

“The club is ambitious. Winning a trophy would complete the growth process that began two years ago. We will do our best to make it happen. We must work as we have done so far.”

A world also on Stefano Pioli…

“Tactically, everyone can see how we present ourselves on the pitch. All the players feel important, this is the main contribution of the coach. I remember that when I played little, Pioli involved me in all team matters, he gave me advice, he trusted me. I felt he was close to me. I will always thank him for that.”

A question about Ibrahimovic simply had to be asked…

“In Manchester I toured Old Trafford. In the locker room I took a picture of myself in front of Zlatan’s shirt. After a few years the Swede became my team-mate. It seemed impossible! how he prepares for the game, how he trains. He is always focused. He is demanding with himself, he has raised our level. He is an example for us.”

During the interview, Gabbia also talked about his fellow defenders…

“Kjaer is a leader. He knows what to say in every moment of the match and the season. Now he is injured. I wish him the best. Tomori is powerful, fast, great footballer. Kalulu has the same characteristics as Tomori. Romagnoli is an intelligent defender. He always knows how to behave in every game situation.”

Is Gabbia better in a three or four-man defence?

“Both systems. Now we use the 4-2-3-1, but we start the action from the back with three defenders.”

Finally, on the new San Siro…

“We hope that Milan will have their own structure in the future. This would be a very important step for the development of the club.”

READ MORE: Milan hoping Tomori makes Baresi-esque recovery for derby against Inter

Tags AC Milan Matteo Gabbia
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