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Mattia Caldara: Destiny of Defense



When Bonucci came to Milan, it seemed as if we had found the perfect experienced defensive partner for Romagnoli for at least the next few years. But actually, we found the perfect partner for Romagnoli for a very long time, because Bonucci’s short-lived stay at Milan allowed us to swap him back directly for the next generation center back, Caldara. Depending on how he develops, we might not see him as much as we might like this season, but it won’t be long before he will become the destiny of our defense.

Welcome to Milan, you are already worshipped

Mattia Caldara was born in Bergamo, Italy, which is the hometown of Atalanta BC. It was only natural, then, that he should play for Atalanta’s youth sector. He started with them at the age of nine years old and continued all the way through the Primavera up to the first team. In fact, he made his first team and Serie A debut on his birthday in May of 2014. However, to gain more experience, he was sent out on loan to Serie B.

The young Caldara playing for Atalanta's Primavera team

For the 2014-15 season, he played with Serie B side Trapani, making 21 appearances for the club and scoring two goals, both in May. Then he was sent to Serie B side Cesena for the 2015-16 season on a loan with option to buy. There he started 29 matches, scored two goals, and also received two red cards. Luckily, the option to buy was not exercised, and he went back to Atalanta.

Old friends celebrating a Caldara goal for Atalanta

This time at Atalanta, he became a starter. He scored seven goals in the 2016-17 season, and made 31 appearances. He also played alongside teammates Conti and Kessie, whom he joined up once again this year at Milan. Atalanta finished a remarkable fourth place that year, and Caldara played his part in that.

That summer, Juventus purchased the player, but left him on loan at Atalanta. He played another 33 appearances for the club, including playing in Europa League. He had three goals in Serie A, helping Atalanta to a seventh place finish and also helping them reach the round of 32 in the Europa League.

His summer crush

This summer had to be a bit confusing for him, as he began his summer in June with Juventus. However, even in his press conference upon arriving at the club, he said “My idol when I was young was Alessandro Nesta, I tried to emulate him as much as I could and I’ve even chosen the number 13 that he used to wear.” Obviously, that is something that he and Romagnoli have in common, but Romagnoli already had the number 13 at Milan and so he chose the number 33 instead.

From being at Juventus in June and even playing a couple of friendlies with them in the ICC tournament this summer, suddenly at the beginning of August, he was throwing Milan jerseys into the Piazza Duomo to cheering Milan fans. He then made an appearance against Real Madrid wearing the Milan jersey. Bonucci’s loss of a moral compass was Milan’s gain, though. Milan upgraded to a newer model in a straight swap deal, and pissed off entitled Juve fans, too. It was a win-win.

Welcome to Milan, you are finally home

Caldara has yet to play for Milan in competition, but was called up for the Italy senior national team in June and again this month. He has also featured for Italy’s U21 team prior to that. Gattuso has said that he will need some time to adjust to playing in a four man backline, rather than Gasperini’s three man backline at Atalanta. But it is only a matter of time before he breaks through, and I believe that he will start ahead of Musacchio before the season ends.

Caldara is not a typical football player. Upon arriving at Milan, it was disclosed that he likes to sit by himself and read, rather than play video games. And not just any reading, either. He likes to read Dostoevsky, and I doubt too many other footballers even know who or what that is, let alone how to spell his name. I have a feeling that his book-smarts will also translate to footballing IQ, which is a huge blessing to a center back. He is also close to his family and his girlfriend, and being from Bergamo is great for him, given its close proximity to Milan.

Bonus points for trolling with the Champions League patch

It is always hard to know how a young player will develop. At 24, he is very young to have been a starter in Serie A. And considering Romagnoli is a year younger than him, Milan are either crazy or set for the next decade when it comes to their center backs. Romagnoli has already proven the later, and now it is time for Caldara to prove his defensive destiny. And many Milan fans believe that he absolutely will.


This post inspired by the music of Muse’s “Uprising”