AC Milan are inching closer and closer to the Scudetto due to veteran leadership. The team has plenty of young stars who contribute to wins, such as Sandro Tonali, Rafael Leao, Mike Maignan, Fikayo Tomori, Pierre Kalulu and others, but ultimately the AC Milan veterans on the team are making sure Milan close out the season strong. The older players on the pitch include Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Olivier Giroud, Alessandro Florenzi, and Simon Kjaer. In fact, Florenzi closed out Milan’s latest victory. Off the pitch, club director Paolo Maldini makes a massive difference as well.
AC Milan Veterans: Leadership Fuels Team
Ibrahimovic has always held a place in his heart for Milan. There’s no coincidence that he was the team’s leading forward when Milan last won the Scudetto in 2011, and now they’re finally back in this position. After several years of mediocrity, not much was expected for Milan when Ibrahimovic returned in early 2020. The club was in disarray, while Ibrahimovic was ageing and coming from Major League Soccer. In 22 Serie A appearances, Ibrahimovic holds eight goals and three assists to his name. Sure, these aren’t eye-popping numbers, but he’s a clear leader on the pitch and in the locker room. Leao has instantly become Milan’s top attacker under the wing of the Swede as well.
Giroud holds nine goals and four assists to his name in 27 Serie A appearances. More often than not, he’s Milan’s starting striker. He’s constantly directing and motivating his teammates. The simple eye test shows Giroud’s importance on the pitch. AC are in a tight race with Inter Milan for the league, but Milan holds the head-to-head advantage should the two teams finish tied in points. This, of course, is due to Giroud’s winning brace versus Inter.
Kjaer was a starter for Milan before his season-ending injury. He was excellent on the pitch and helped mild Tomori into the player he is today. Kjaer, although not able to play, can be seen with his teammates all the time.
Finally, Florenzi arrived this season holding a plethora of experience throughout Europe and for the Italian national team. His play on the pitch is still very solid, and he showed his determination by returning so quickly from knee surgery.
The Maldini Factor
Maldini is, without a question, Milan’s top player of all time. He spent over two decades with the club as a player, winning multiple trophies. At his peak, Maldini was the top defender in world football.
Before arriving at Milan in his current role, the club was in financial disarray. The play on the pitch was also awful for Milan standards, as the club leadership had no clear vision on how to bring the club back to its former glory.
Former players in major roles don’t always work out, such as Andrea Pirlo as the Juventus manager last season, but Maldini has been nothing short of excellent in his sporting director role.
Milan’s finances are in order, the team is making shrewd transfers to improve the play on the pitch, and Milan is finally returning to the top of Italy and looking like an attractive destination for players.