After Laia Codina made the switch to AC Milan from FC Barcelona on a season long loan, many Milan fans wanted to know more about her.
SempreMilan recently spoke with journalist Natalie Barresi, about how Laia’s signing will affect the team. Barresi is from Barcelona and writes about FC Barcelona’s Women’s team.
How would you describe Laia Codina’s playing style? And how did she fit into Barcelona’s tactical setup?
“She is a versatile centre-back: physical and strong but also agile and great on the ball with excellent vision. She can even play in the midfield, she can read the game well which allows her to anticipate her rival’s moves and make good tackles.
“She is of course technically gifted, as are most players coming from the Barça’s system, and she fits quite well in the formation in the place of either Andrea Pereira or Mapi León. She shows great confidence when she plays. Laia seems like someone who’s been playing football for a lot longer than she actually has.
“She connects well with the midfield and works well when they press high up on the pitch.”
How vital was Codina to Barça’s treble-winning season?
“She didn’t play that much considering how often Andrea Pereira and Mapi León were starters and obviously they have much more experience. When she did play, she was solid in the back and helped Barcelona get important points in the league and maintain a winning streak. She played in moments that may not have seemed important but they allowed the team to be consistent and that was a major reason why they were so successful.
“Laia was also always supporting her team-mates from the bench so she had a big influence in motivating her team from the sidelines. She’s a fun presence to have on the team while still having a captain-like attitude.”
The Barça fans seem to be sad that she’s leaving. Some are even fearing that she might not sign an extension before she leaves. What is it about her that made the fans love her so much?
“She’s a homegrown player who’s worked her way into the first team and these youth player ‘success’ stories always make big connections with the fans. She’s very expressive about how much she loves her team and how proud she is to wear the Blaugrana shirt.
“I think the fans like her passion and how she really gives her all on the pitch. And the fans are also aware that Laia is a very talented player on the radar of many teams. They don’t want to lose her to another club, as many see her as a future captain and hope she’ll be at Barcelona for a long time.”
In Spain, the players are taught technical skills from a young age whereas, in Italy, the players are both technical while also being tactical. How much do you think Laia could benefit from Italy’s emphasis on tactics in football?
“She will definitely develop as a defender in Italy and learning a new style of football will allow her to be able to defend better against different types of players. Some of the best defenders in football history have come from Italy so she’ll form part of a very organized backline that allows her to learn composure and be better able to prevent goal-scoring opportunities.
“Laia is used to being on a team that likes to have possession so she’ll learn how to position herself and maintain her spot without the ball. She will practice her abilities to press high, while still being able to react quickly and rush back if there is a counter attack.”
How do you think Milan could benefit from Codina’s presence?
“With Codina, Milan benefits for a few reasons. One being that with her and veterans Laura Agard and Laura Fusetti along with Laura Giuliani as goalkeeper, they will have a very strong defense. That’s exactly what they need if they want to compete with Juve for the league title.
“She’s also young but already quite experienced for her age. She’s won the UWCL and Milan is playing the competition for the very first time. So she has seen what kind of mentality and physical work is needed to win a major title like that.
“Another benefit is that having a popular young talent like Laia, who just won the treble and is wanted by a lot of teams, shows that Milan can have big-name players and that the club is putting more effort into the women’s team. It shows other big players that Milan is a team that can compete for big titles.
“She’s also quite fast for a CB and has great passing accuracy which will help Milan maintain possession.”
Will the Barça fans follow her at Milan? (You’ll be able to watch the matches for free on the AC Milan app, Dailymotion page, and on La7).
“I definitely think they will especially if there are so many ways to watch the games for free. If the streaming services are available in their countries, then of course they’ll want to keep their eyes on the young player. They want to see her improve and succeed. The fans are quite dedicated to the team and ex-players and even more so with youth players on loan.
“Last season, when youth player, Claudia Pina, was on loan at Sevilla, people were keeping up with the scores or watching Sevilla games just to see Pina. Considering how important Laia is for many fans, I’m pretty sure they’ll be following closely. I didn’t know the games could be seen on so many platforms so thank you for letting me know! I will definitely be tuning into the games.”
Finally, is there anything else you want us to know about Laia?
“This information might be kind of irrelevant but it might be connected to why she chose AC Milan which is that she’s sponsored by Puma and so is Milan. Having the same sponsor might have helped her make the decision but that’s just my thoughts.
“At Milan she will be alongside Vero Boquete, a Spanish player who is considered legendary by many Spanish football fans and she can help Laia adapt faster to the league and their connection between the defense and the midfield might be quite entertaining to watch this season.”