Romano: How Milan built a defensive unit for the future with just €50m spend

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan’s defensive unit attracted a lot of praise for their performance during last night’s draw against Spurs that secured progress into the Champions League quarter-finals.

As Fabrizio Romano reports on his Twitter, it is a rearguard that did not cost Milan that much to assemble when compared to some of the astronomical figures being paid in the modern market just to buy individuals.

First of all there is Mike Maignan, who arrived from Lille in the summer of 2021 to be the replacement for Gianluigi Donnarumma after he decided not to sign a new contract, and he was acquired from the Ligue 1 club for just €15m.

Speaking of Ligue 1 clubs, the Rossoneri pulled off an incredible coup by signing Pierre Kalulu on what was effectively a free transfer (with payment of a development fee less than €500k). He had not made a senior appearance for Lyon, showing the strength of the scouting department.

Malick Thiaw arrived last summer from Schalke 04 in a deal costing just €6m after he had impressed in their promotion season from the 2. Bundesliga, and finally Fikayo Tomori was bought for €29m from Chelsea after impressing on an initial loan.

Maignan is 27 years of age, Kalulu 22, Thiaw just 21 and Tomori 25, making it a young back line established for just €50m which should lead the team into the future.

Tags AC Milan Fikayo Tomori Malick Thiaw Mike Maignan Pierre Kalulu


  1. When you sign youngsters it’s a bet. Sometimes it pays off with a little patience like it did with Kalulu and Thiaw and may yet happen with CDK. I don’t see anyone praising Maldini for these signings but he gets bashed for Origi and Messias who he brought for nothing and peanuts.

    Origi on paper made sense. I don’t know why he’s been beyond hope for us.

    1. True. But for Origi… Well… His stats were already a warning sign and I was one of the guys who objected to his arrival – mainly due to his poor scoring records. But I still gotta admit I was kind of wrong too. I thought he could still play even though he wasn’t a great scorer. Oh boy was I wrong. His first touch is something out of this world. People criticize Rebic for his first touch but he’s still 1000x better than Origi. The Belgian doesn’t seem to do anything right on the pitch. And that’s something the stats didn’t tell.

      1. Maybe true, but Origi did score 2 of the most beautiful goals of the season which showed how great his potential is. If you look at how luch matches Giroud struggles to get involved, perhaps Milan strategy just isnt’ that good at providing for strikers. The game against Inter was just a joke. Only long balls forward. I don’t think we’ve seen the full potential of Origi. Our strategy is focussing on the flanks, not a center striker.

        1. “If you look at how luch matches Giroud struggles to get involved, perhaps Milan strategy just isnt’ that good at providing for strikers.”

          I know. Some people here keep saying we need a better striker. Well… Even Haaland wouldn’t shine in Milan as the service is seriously lacking. First we need to fix the midfield and lack of creativity. I’m sure Giroud would still score +20 goals with proper service. Even Origi would be scoring more if he got better passes inside the box.

  2. Its nice to hear that mandini and co. still made some good decisions afterall and they dont always make bad decisions. Almost every ppl are against the staff for almost everything but they forget the positives they have done with their limited funds for transfers. I am proud with what they havd done so far. I think with a bit of luck and if we players rises they bar a little higher especially leao, tonali and giroud we could go further in CL. We have a nice pedigry in CL so who knows how far we can reach. Also 10 mil+ for advancing to quater finals.

  3. It’s fair to congratulate those who deserve it when the occasion presents itself. And that’s exactly the case: a wonderful piece of business / management as a whole and individually speaking.

  4. And some commenters in here never praise Maldini, Masara, and Moncada for their achievements. They always yapping about Maldini let Dollaruma, Cashie, and Kebab for free.

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