AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has explained why he sent Diego Laxalt on loan to European rivals Celtic.
Laxalt made his debut for the Hoops in Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Rangers, and is now set to face his parent club in our Europa League group H opener at Parkhead this evening.
Laxalt only signed for the club just over two weeks ago, with the Europa League draw already having been made. That naturally led to some raised eyebrows over why the Uruguayan was allowed to head off to Parkhead and compete against his permanent employers.
But there’s no fuss there for Milan coach Pioli. He’s outlined why his left-back was sent to Parkhead, and has explained it’s normal practice in Italy for players to face their parent clubs.
As quoted by the Scottish Sun, Pioli said: “In Italy it is quite normal for a player to go to another team and play against an ex-coach and ex-team-mates.
“We let him go because it is good for his growth and we didn’t use him a lot last year because (Theo) Hernandez was playing so well.
“But we know if he plays tomorrow he will make it really difficult for us.”
Laxalt should have the hunger we need from everyone
Given the situation, you would naturally assume that Laxalt will be the hungriest player on the pitch tonight. A chance to rub your employer’s nose in it and show them you could’ve made an impact there? It must be appealing for him.
But the truth is, in order to get a result, we’re going to need absolutely everyone on the pitch displaying that same level of fight and determination. If we don’t then we can forget taking anything from this one, especially with Milan packed with quality talents such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Brahim Diaz.
Yes, it’s easy to just say that Laxalt has proven himself to be worse than what Milan have. After all, why would they let him go if he was good enough to lay a glove on the first-team’s capabilities?
That’s all well and good, but we know our team individually isn’t as good as Milan’s XI. That doesn’t matter. It’s about how we gel collectively. So far the signs on that front aren’t great either, but there has to be a belief in the team that they can raise their game tonight and pull something out of the hat.
All we can really do is hope for this one. There are no signs we’ll out in a performance capable of taking the points, but stranger things have happened in football than Celtic beating AC Milan at home.
So long as our starting XI can match the mindset Laxalt is surely going to have, then we should at the very least give a good account of ourselves. That’s all many of us ask for this evening.