GdS: Six months, 13 games and three managers – Gabbia’s time at Villarreal

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan are expected to welcome Matteo Gabbia back from his loan spell at Villarreal next month, and even though he has only been there six months it has been an eventful half-year.

La Gazzetta dello Sport confirm that Villarreal coach Marcelino in the last few hours gave the green light for Gabbia to return to Milan six months earlier than the agreement originally foresaw. As a reminder, it was a season-long dry loan.

Casting our minds back to last summer, Milan were busy on the American tour and shortly before the friendly match with Real Madrid they closed the defender’s loan to Villarreal, deciding at the last minute to start Jan-Carlo Simic to avoid risks in the negotiation.

The Spaniards are aiming for the central defender to replace the hole left in the squad by Pau Torres, who had recently moved to Aston Villa. In front of him, with Jorge Cuenca, Mandi and captain Raul Albiol, there was no shortage of competition.

Gabbia, however, started well: he made his debut in the second round of LaLiga against Mallorca, playing a good match from the start, which was a 1-0 win. Then he was confirmed as the starter in the next match against Barcelona, ​​lost 4-3 but after 90 minutes on the pitch.

Until the beginning of November, his performance was overall good, with seven appearances out of 12 league matches. Then, with Marcelino’s return to the bench, his path in LaLiga became more complicated.

Another chapter begins here. In the few months spent in Spain, Gabbia has already had three head coaches. Villarreal started the season with Quique Setién – who was relieved of his duties on the fourth matchday (after only three points from four games) – and later entrusted the team to Pacheta, who was replaced in November by Marcelino.

Gabbia did not find great continuity in his experience with the Yellow Submarine, making a total of 13 appearances in all competitions. The positive note of the spell in Spain was in the Europa League, given that Gabbia played all of Villarreal’s matches, with all bar one being starts.

There is an interesting curiosity: in group F of the Europa League, Gabbia played against Stade Rennais, whom Milan will face in the play-off in February (first leg on the 15th and return leg on the 22nd).

Villarreal took first place in the group by winning the direct clash in the last group game, one in which Matteo lost consciousness after an unfortunate clash with his teammate Albiol, taking a knee in the face but ultimately recovering.

Tags AC Milan Matteo Gabbia


  1. Some people are acting like it’s a huge coup to bring Gabbia back and now that we have, all our problems in the back are solved LOL. Let’s not forget there was a reason we let him leave on loan in the first place – he could not beat out the backup CB’s let alone the starters. And his time at Villarreal was even worse. He mostly sat the bench and if he was performing well there – Villarreal would not have agreed to terminate his loan so early. So not sure why even is celebrating. This is a low cost depth move (fine) that I don’t believe will help us much in terms of winning more games if we are all being honest.

    Again – Gambia and maybe Miranda is all we can expect this January. Don’t get your hopes up.

    1. If not because of pioli gabbia is on the same level as inter bastoni. And please remind me if ever gabbia play bad when call on. But if given chance even simic can do great things but pioli will not give any one proper chance

  2. 3 different coaches in 4 months, new country, new league, new club and yet Gabbia managed to play more minutes than under Pioli for the entirety of the seasons last 3,4 years.
    He left, just like Colombo, because he knew that the only way he will get to play was if his teammates get operated on after Pioli run then into the ground.
    Same with Colombo. He has played over a 1000 minutes for Monza so far this season even though he joined them on September 1st and missed the first 2 games because he was sitting on Pioli’s bench.
    Jovic, the man who everyone was against because he took Colombo’s spot, has only played 400 minutes so far under Pioli.
    Both Colombo and Jovic have the same production 3 goals , 1 assist.
    We will never know what production Milan can get because the coach refuses to use these players.
    Said it before. Signing another striker in January will be a waste of money because Pioli will still play Giroud 90 minutes every 3 days.
    Pick the new coach, then pick your striker.

  3. Still got more minutes than he would get here. Pioli and Moncada thought Pellegrino would be better (and any other back up CB). Remember that!
    If anyone actually saw the games and goals conceded, most of the times it wasnt his fault. And Villareal defence is so suspect

  4. Gabbia never did anything wrong for us, was always there when called upon and was always solid, so I for one am pleased he is coming back, replacing him with pellegrino, an unknown, was stupid in the first place

    1. He on the opposite side of being solid. A featureless player who in fact sucked donkey balls every time he entered the field. Slow, out of position, questionable decision making & ineffective tackling.

      There is a very good reason his market value is 3.8 at the age of 24.

      – Milan 2-5 Sassuolo
      – Fiorentina 4-3 Milan

      Look at these highlights. This is embarrassing.

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