MN: From midfielder to Milan starter – Thiaw’s journey to the present moment

By Oliver Fisher -

Malick Thiaw may be only 21 but it has been quite a journey for him already up to the present day, where he is likely an immovable starter for Milan.

Having spent time at TV Kalkum-Wittlaer, Fortuna Düsseldorf, Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Schalke 04 as a youth player, MilanNews recall that he actually began his young career as a midfielder, with Yaya Touré his idol.

However, that changed in the U19s of Schalke 04 under coach Norbert Elgert who moved him back to being a central defender, by which point his role models became Sergio Ramos and Joel Matip, an ex-Schalke defender who made the move to Liverpool.

Thiaw earned his stripes in the youth sector of the Gelsenkirchen club and was given the chance to show off regularly in the first team in the 2. Bundesliga after they had suffered relegation, helping them get promotion and playing three times in the top flight before Milan came in.

The Rossoneri had been tracking him for some time and managed to seal a deal worth €5m up front plus €2m in potential bonuses. After barely being seen in the first few months, Thiaw has started each of the last three games all of which resulted in wins and clean sheets.

A change in formation to one with three centre-backs certainly helped the 21-year-old, as did the fact Milan were leaking goals all over in 2023, but the recent revival has been accompanied by the inclusion of Thiaw in the starting line-up and that is an unavoidable fact.

He has overtaken Matteo Gabbia – who this year has provided performances with a rather fluctuating performance level – and also Simon Kjaer who is regarded as one of the leaders of the squad but is not physically at his best after coming back from a lengthy Achilles tendon injury.

Thiaw certainly has leadership skills too as he is the captain of Germany’s U21 side and seems to have a trajectory heading towards the senior national side in time, especially if he keeps impressing at Milan.

Tags AC Milan Malick Thiaw


  1. We’re good at picking promising young players. We’re bad at selling players at the right time to generate revenue. I hope we can improve this aspect.

  2. IF only Pioli would give the chance to vranckx or Adli. Heck even a consistent run of minutes to cdk. They are yet to play a full 90 mins. I like Pioli but putting these kids on the 70 min and expect them to do a miracle OR face being on the bench for months is crazy. The only reason Thiaw (Kalulu last year), Tonali and Leao shined is because of injuries. Had tomori and Kjaer not get injured, Rebic not be made of glass, Bennacer not get fatigued on the african cup, these kids would’ve never played

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