There were a few years where AC Milan did not have a world class player in any position, but now they arguably have several and Mike Maignan is certainly one of them.
La Gazzetta dello Sport recall how Milan waited months to see Maignan back between the posts after his troublesome calf problems and he repaid the patience of everybody with a decisive save on Harry Kane that sealed a spot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League after more than a decade.
Maignan’s post-match pride told its own story: “I’m happy because I’m back playing for the fans, but also for the club. The Champions League is a goal we have every year and we haven’t played at this level for a long time.”
The Frenchman’s absence as a goalkeeper was of course very much felt, but ‘Magic Mike’ brings more than just his saves. First and foremost his footwork and distribution essentially makes him another outfield player, but he is also a leader and is the general of the defensive unit.
This was seen in London in the positioning instructions often and willingly given out on the edge of the area, with the former Lille man barking out orders and indications to his team-mates. He is more than a goalkeeper and Milan know it, because he also helps in the build-up phase.
Now the discussion turns to where Milan might be if he hadn’t been injured. Considering that last season he was the king of clean sheets in Serie A with 17, he has also shown his decisiveness in the current campaign too.
He saved Duvan Zapata’s header in the draw with Atalanta in Bergamo on 21 August, he stopped Domenico Berardi’s penalty in the 0-0 draw away against Sassuolo and he also thwarted Lautaro and Calhanoglu in the 3-2 derby win earlier in the season.
Milan have conceded 12 goals in 12 games with Maignan this season, and with Ciprian Tatarusanu the figure rises to 31 in 23 games across all competitions. Against Spurs Pioli’s team played 613 balls and many of these passed from Maignan’s feet, while he made two high catch interventions and three saves.
When thinking back to that terrible January that cost a couple of seasonal objectives, one can’t help but wonder if it would have been different had Maignan been available.
his distribution ball, playing the ball and dare to catch the ball between players on the field makes the different Maignan. solid rock bro …