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AC Milan’s Mattia De Sciglio still improving
Legendary AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini retired in 2009, but nearly four years on, the “next Maldini” has arrived according to Milanisti and journalists everywhere. 20 year old Mattia De Sciglio has been at Milan since he was 10, but has since become an integral part of manager Massimiliano Allegri’s squad. He received his full senior debut on September 28th, 2011 in the Champions League against Viktoria Plzen, then his league debut on as a starter against Chievo the following April. In 2012/13, he received the number two shirt, worn by former greats like Cafu and Mauro Tassotti.
“This is very important to me. I hope to live up to the standards of Cafu and Tassotti,” said De Sciglio.
He’s since played in 25 games for Milan, including 19 in Serie A and five in European competition. In the Rossoneri’s 4-0 humiliation to Barcelona, many criticized the coaching staff’s decision to not have De Sciglio start at left back. Instead Kevin Constant featured and got burned on David Villa’s marker, which ended up giving the Catalans a 3-0 lead, and, ultimately, the victory. Not only that, the youngster has also received a call-up to Cesare Prandelli’s Italy squad for their upcoming fixtures against Brazil and Malta. Despite all of these accomplishments over the last several months, there’s still a lot for De Sciglio to learn and some Milan supporters should calm the praise a little.
For many Italians, it’s great to see young, domestic talent dominating Serie A this season. De Sciglio falls under that category, but the keyword there is “young”. Defenders generally peak later than midfielders and strikers. Late twenties or early thirties is usually the norm, meaning De Sciglio has possibly another decade of development ahead of him. That includes the mental side of football as well. Hence why it’s important for De Sciglio to not get as many minutes as he’s been getting, because if he doesn’t, he’ll become complacent. Also, it keeps the pressure from expectant fans off of De Sciglio.
In terms of on the pitch performance, De Sciglio has shown great maturity for a 20 year old. However he’s also demonstrated his true age on some occasions. He’s displayed some great attacking movements against Inter where he was lighting up Yuto Nagatomo on the left flank, but he had some defensive lapses in that game as well. Often he’d give the likes of Fredy Guarin and Antonio Cassano too much space whenever they drifted to his side. That gave the Inter attackers some crossing lanes and the chance to dribble past De Sciglio, setting up other members of their squad with a goal scoring opportunity.
There is a bright side, though. Most young fullbacks tend to be brilliant in attack but still lack something in defence. At De Sciglio’s age, he’ll gain the responsibility on both sides of the ball. However fans need to calm down on the hype with this kid, because he is, after all, a kid. Let him develop, don’t put pressure on him, but don’t also treat him like he’s a mistake free player, because like everyone, he makes some.