Thiaw talks about difficult season, preferred system, transfer rumours and Maldini’s influence

By Oliver Fisher -

Malick Thiaw has responded to the notion that he is attracted interest from some of Europe’s top clubs and he also reflected on what has been a difficult season at AC Milan due to his injury.

Thiaw was one of three centre-backs who each suffered quite serious muscle problems towards the back end of 2023 which thrust the department into such an emergency that Theo Hernandez was forced to play centre-back and Matteo Gabbia was brought back from his loan at Villarreal.

He made his return earlier this year and though his performance levels have been fluctuating, there have been some positive recent signs such as the excellent display in the 0-0 draw with Juventus.

The German is a player who could be important in the mercato this summer. Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have both enquired as per Calciomercato.com’s recent report and Milan sense a significant capital gain.

Thiaw spoke at the event organised by Under Armour at the Brand New House Under Armour in Piazza Gae Aulenti in Milano and he answered questions from journalists, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.

This year you almost always played in a four-man defence, while last year and at Schalke it was a three-man line. In which do you feel best?

“I don’t think I need a specific tactical structure to defend well. You have to defend together with other players, it doesn’t matter whether with three or four but how you defend, whether it’s with three or four. I feel comfortable with both systems.”

In recent days there has been talk of Real Madrid and Bayern’s interest in you…

“It’s part of football, there always has to be news. My focus is on Milan. Next season I want to do better. I’m focused on myself and the team’s performance.”

It was a strange season for you, also due to the long injury. How do you evaluate your season?

“I can do better, it’s something I can learn from, grow mentally and physically. When things don’t go the way you want you can always learn from them. You don’t have to beat yourself up, you have to move forward and try to do better.

“In football the most important thing is to be available. If you’re not, you can’t improve and you can’t have your say on the pitch. The most important thing for me is to be healthy next season and continue to improve on the field.”

What do you think of Maldini?

“As a player I can’t say much, I haven’t seen much of him, only on YouTube. But still he is one of the best, if not the best defender of all time. It was truly a pleasure to have the opportunity to interact with him for a year. Did he give me special advice? Yes, of course, but I keep them to myself (laughs).”

Do you have any thoughts on the fans’ protests?

“Milan is a truly great team, we didn’t get the results we wanted and they have every right to be angry because they love the club. We definitely have to do better. Sometimes you love a team so much that you may not be satisfied with what happens on the pitch and the performances of the players. We have to accept it, listen to what they say and see what we can do better next season.”

What was the transition from German football to Serie A like?

“It was a great challenge for me to move from the Bundesliga to Serie A, it’s a difficult league. It’s very tactical, the attackers are really very strong physically. Here you have to be concentrated for the whole 90 minutes.”

Do you remember the day you discovered that Milan were interested in you?

“Yes, I remember that. I was having lunch with my brother and my mother, the manager called me and told me that I should have made a call with Maldini, he wanted to talk to me. I was very surprised.”

Do you feel like one of the leaders of this Milan?

“No, no, not yet. It’s not something that comes quickly, I have to earn it on the pitch and over time.”

Are you still hoping for a call-up for the European Championships?

“Of course, I want to be there. Let’s see if I will be called up or not.”

Tags AC Milan Malick Thiaw

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