Football-wise, 2020 was a year to remember for all the Milan fans around the world. With the Christmas break underway, the Rossoneri are top of the standings, one point ahead of city rivals Inter after a fantastic start.
Above all, it’s a year to remember for the players, as highlighted by Manuel Del Vecchio of MilanNews. Simon Kjaer is certainly one of the players that should be very pleased, having bounced back from a difficult personal situation.
The Dane arrived on loan from Sevilla in January after a disappointing loan spell at Atalanta, receiving a lot of criticism for his performances. Therefore, the Milan fans were sceptic, but he managed to make the most of the opportunity.
The 5-0 loss away at Atalanta was still on everyone’s eyes and the feeling was that the Rossoneri had wasted another season, already in the winter. In this difficult climate, therefore, the signing of Kjaer certainly didn’t generate a whole lot of enthusiasm.
Little did we know, that Kjaer would become a fundamental pillar in Stefano Pioli’s successful side, with the latter ending the year on a strong note. The 3-2 win against Lazio, although the 31-year-old didn’t feature, showed everything about this team.
Even when there wasn’t a lot of interest around the club, reports arrived from Milanello on the Dane: he entered the team in the best way possible, keen to bounce back, quickly getting everyone behind him with his professionalism and dedication.
As he revealed early himself, joining Milan had always been a dream of his and after a year with the Rossoneri shirt, we can certainly say he took the opportunity. After a period of acclimatisation, he became an undisputed starter in the back-four.
With regards to his relationship with Pioli, the fate of the two has been more linked than one might believe. It’s no secret that Ivan Gazidis was ready to revolutionize Milan at the end of last season, having lined up Ralf Rangnick as the new manager.
The results, however, proved Pioli right and the Rossoneri CEO backtracked, interrupting contacts with the German Red Bull director. Back then, it seemed like the right decision and this has only been confirmed in the last few months.
Kjaer, as a result of this, was able to breathe a sigh of relief. Rangnick would have most likely got rid of him, taking his youth philosophy into consideration. But as the defender remained, he has continued to be a leader in the team.
The list of his qualities is long, from his aerial strength to ability with the ball, and it’s clear that his arrival was a big bargain for Milan. That being said, Kjaer hasn’t always played on this level, the Rossoneri environment energises him to do better.
Never in his career has the centre-back managed to keep the standards so high and for such a long period. After his muscle injury, now close to a return, Milan have suffered a lot in defence (also due to other injuries).
His experience and leadership are two key factors for the team and in 2021, the Rossoneri will be looking forward to welcoming back their best centre-back.