Having given Mattia Caldara the green light to rejoin Atalanta, AC Milan needed to find a replacement on the transfer market. It only took a few days, and then the Rossoneri revealed their new centre-back: Simon Kjaer.
The Danish international has signed a six-month deal with the club, joining from La Liga side Sevilla on loan after terminating his loan spell at Atalanta. The Rossoneri also have a buy-out clause at the end of the season, should he do well for the club.
It remains to be seen how many minutes he will get for his new side, though there are doubts over the consistency of current starter Mateo Musacchio. Therefore, if Kjaer starts off well, he could be Alessio Romagnoli’s new partner at the back.
In fact, he has already made his debut for Milan, starting in the Coppa Italia game against SPAL on Wednesday night. Although he didn’t have much to do, he looked solid for a first performance. So, who is Kjaer? Let’s take a closer look at the defender…
Kjaer was born in Horsens, Denmark back on March 26 1989, and began his youth career playing for Lund IF, before moving on to the youth ranks of top tier side FC Midtjylland at the age of 15.
While there, he was named the best player of a French youth tournament, which attracted the interest of Lille. However, the Danish side rejected offers for two of their players, including Kjaer. Just one year later, aged 18, he made his debut for the first team.
After a successful trial at Real Madrid, the Spanish giants tried to sign him. However, once again, Midtjylland opposed the sale and decided to offer him his first professional contract on a five-year basis.
Finally, in the following year, he left the club as Serie A side Palermo managed to sign him for €4m. In his first season for the Sicilian side, he played 27 games, which was exceeded in his second season with 38 appearances.
In 2010, he was sold to Wolfsburg for a fee of €12m. Since then, he has been at Roma, Lille, Fenerbahce, Sevilla and Atalanta. And here we are, now he’s the new centre-back of Milan.
Throughout his career, Kjaer has been known as a defender that doesn’t take any nonsense. Despite his size and height, 1.91 meters long, he isn’t the slowest defender you will come across. All of this, of course, results in a powerful defender.
Certainly, if you compare him with Musacchio and Romagnoli, he’s certainly more similar to the latter. On the ball, he’s composed and off it, he isn’t as aggressive as Musacchio. Instead, he relies a lot on his positioning, using his long legs if something goes wrong.
It will be interesting to see if he can slot in next to Romagnoli, as the fans have been crying out for a new centre-back for quite some time now. The performance against SPAL was encouraging, although as mentioned he didn’t have much to do.
Since Kjaer was signed to potentially replace Musacchio as the right-sided CB, it makes the most sense to compare the two. This season, the Rossoneri’s new addition has made fewer appearances than the Argentine, racking up a total of six for Atalanta in the league.
Musacchio on the other hand has made 16 appearances for the Rossoneri so far this season. In other words, although the Argentine has played 10 more games, the stats will at least give us an indication of how they have performed.
Using the data of WhoScored, the Danish international has had an average rating of 6.65 thus far, while Musacchio is at 6.58. The latter also has fewer tackles per game on average with 0.9, while Kjaer is at 1.8.
Furthermore, Kjaer makes more blocks (0.8 to 0.4) and interceptions with (1.4 to 1.3) compared to his new team-mate, but also averages more fouls with 2.6 compared to Musacchio’s 1.1.
In addition to that, Musacchio also has more clearances with an average of 2.9 against 1.8. Of course, these are very small margins and it’s certainly hard to determine how well a player has done just based on stats.
Deal or no deal?
Given that Jean-Clair Todibo was supposedly the first choice, Kjaer certainly wasn’t the dream signing for the fans. However, at the age of 30, he still has a lot to offer and – above all – to prove.
Furthermore, Milan will have the opportunity to sign him on a permanent basis for just €2.5m at the end of the season. Should he perform well alongside Romagnoli, then it would definitely be a bargain.
His experience will also be important for the team, although the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic has done plenty already. If the Dane can get along with the Swede, then he could be an important player in the second half of the season.
Transfer rating: 6.5/10