AC Milan confirm another boost to their defensive ranks as Leo Duarte returns to training ahead of Celtic clash

By David Walton

October 20, 2020

AC Milan have released a statement confirming that centre-back Leo Duarte has returned to training ahead of their game against Celtic this week.

The Hoops host Milan at Parkhead in their Europa League group-stage curtain-raiser. It looks set to be a cracker, with the Hoops looking to bounce straight back from their dreadful defeat to Rangers on Saturday.

Much of the summer concerns at Milan have been focused on their centre-back options given Duarte had been out after suffering surgery and Alessio Romagnoli was also sidelined. The latter, however, returned to action and played 90 minutes against Inter Milan last Saturday.

And now, Duarte is also back in the fold as Milan’s centre-back options grow stronger ahead of the Celtic visit. Putting a statement out on their website, here’s what our European foes had to say:

“AC Milan announces that Léo Duarte has tested negative for Covid-19. The player, having completed the medical screening laid out by the protocol, returned to training today.”

Milan have no such defensive issues anymore

Whilst Milan are still likely to add another centre-back in on a free transfer or perhaps in January, they don’t have anywhere near the same problems they had a month or so ago.

They don’t need to rely on a Simon Kjaer-Matteo Gabbia partnership anymore. The latter is another still struggling with Covid, but will be due to return next week.

Now, Milan have both their captain and a Brazilian alternative available to them. It remains to be seen of course whether manager Stefano Pioli includes Duarte in his squad so soon after recovering from the virus.

AC Milan defender Leo Duarte (Photo by Giuseppe Cottini/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

However, the Milan boss was happy to throw Ibrahimovic straight into the derby with Inter after he had tested positive and recovered. There was hardly any prep work needing done on him. Duarte could easily follow the same path.

But no matter what the Milan manager does, he’ll start to have a bit more confidence in the centre-back options at his disposal now. When Gabbia returns, he’ll have all four of his main options available to him once again. There’s no crisis there.

It’ll be interesting to see who makes the cut into the first XI at Parkhead. However, given the defensive partnership on Saturday, it looks likely to be Kjaer and Romagnoli once again.

In other news, a European superstar has admitted his frustration at not being able to experience a packed Celtic Park.