Celtic’s Europa League rivals AC Milan failed to add to their priority position on deadline day yesterday.
Milan had been hunting for a centre-back in the closing weeks of the transfer window after injuries and a positive virus case ruled out some of their big-hitters.
Even Milan technical director Paolo Maldini admitted back in September that a central defender was the club’s main priority. Speaking to Sky Italia, he’s quoted as saying: “Now the need is a central defender, we have two out of five available. Milenkovic and Ajer could be part of the names evaluated, but they are not the only ones and they are not the ones on whom we are working on.”
Indeed, as well as Kris Ajer and Nikola Milenkovic, the Rossoneri were linked with a host of other potential centre-back options in recent weeks. These ranged from Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger (Sky Sports) to Bologna’s Takehiro Tomiyasu (Sky Sport).
However, ahead of Milan’s trip to Celtic Park in the Europa League group stages in two weeks, they failed to bring another addition in before deadline day.
Milan’s defence is anything but weak
Of course, it’s vital that Celtic don’t get the wrong idea here. Milan are anything but poor at the back, and their results at the start of the season have proven that.
The Serie A giants have yet to lose a goal in any of their opening three league matches and didn’t ship in their opening Europa League qualifier against Shamrock Rovers either. Granted, they have allowed two goals through against Bodo/Glimt and Rio Ave respectively, but they’ve started generally strong.
As for Maldini’s comments on only having two of their five available – that may be about to change. Brazilian defender Leo Duarte contracted the virus nearly two weeks ago. By the time Milan come to Parkhead, he’ll be available to feature.
Another crocked defender, Alessio Romagnoli, is scheduled to return after the international break after initially being injured for three weeks with a calf injury. He should be back before the trip to Parkhead, but it’s unlikely he’ll feature given he hasn’t played all season.
That’s not even taking into account their current defensive duo. Simon Kjaer (the Danish national team captain) and Matteo Gabbia (an Italian under-21 international) have been playing for AC together this season, and they’ve generally been solid.
So Milan may have failed their supporters last night in failing to add one more centre-back, but Celtic can’t be fooled into thinking they don’t have any quality to throw into the position at the moment.