Finding Conti

Andrea Conti was one of the Mirabelli purchases of the infamous Yonghong Li Era. It didn’t take a scout to see the speed and talent he displayed at Atalanta, and certainly fans were excited to see what the young right back could bring to Milan. But in over two years since he signed, he has only made a handful of appearances in the red and black because of long-term injuries. He is not the only one with bad luck, though as Milan have had some very tough times, too. Times would certainly improve for both club and player if he is able to stay healthy and get plenty of playing time. It’s all about finding Conti.

Just what we needed? 

Milan have struggled at right back for some time. Abate, who grew up in Milan’s youth sector, was incredibly fast when he was younger, but as he matured he slowed down and also struggled with his crossing. His experience was always vital, and he was important as a leader. But none of those things were viewed as important enough to justify keeping him on the wage bill this year, so his contract was allowed to expire.

De Sciglio was also very promising, and also a product of the youth sector. But after one good season that was spent largely on the left, his performances became very inconsistent, and he admittedly had some psychological issues. So much so, he lost his mind completely and signed for Juventus. Such a tragic story.

One of these things is not like the other

Calabria was promoted into the first team from the youth sector at the age of 19. He actually has made 75 appearances for Milan, many of those thanks to Conti’s injuries. He has a lot of talent and is relatively fast, but has poor judgment and makes big errors sometimes. He also has discipline lapses, most notably receiving two red cards within the first six matches this season. He and Conti, when healthy, compete for the starting spot now that Abate is gone. But if Conti continues to play like he did on Sunday, Calabria will always be the backup.

The competition is... a little rash and hot-headed

Despite having a couple of rough matches this season, including vs. Genoa and also in the Derby, Sunday against Juve, Conti was every bit the player we played Atalanta €24m + Pessina for. He was lightning fast, he was fantastic defensively, but also got forward, and had some exquisite tackles. He also took the ball from a confused-looking Cristiano Ronaldo, who was so embarrassed, he left the stadium early. (Okay, he left the stadium early. The other part might be made up.) As for Conti’s performance, he recently announced that he will become a father, so if this is because of that, I hope he plans to have a lot of kids.

That's three-quarters of a young, talented four-man defense

With Theo Hernandez the only player anyone with a pulse would dream to start on the left, thinking of Conti being his counterpart on the right is very tantalizing. Between the two of them, service to our attackers exponentially increases the sad, sad numbers of chances per game that we’ve seen for way too long. And our defense improves as well, even if perhaps that might be the weaker part of both players’ game. But with Suso one of our best and most consistent players, having Conti control that right side just elevates our game in ways we haven’t seen in a very long time.

After surviving an ACL injury that left Conti out of the squad for 182 days, then a subsequent training injury that required surgery almost back to back with his previous injury, which caused him to miss 206 days, the risk of more long-term injury is the biggest fear for Conti. If he can stay healthy, it seems that he is destined to make his mark on the right side. He could easily eclipse all of the right backs in recent memory and elevate Milan's performances as well. It’s all about finding Conti.

This post inspired by the music of Thomas Newman’s “Finding Nemo” Soundtrack

Finding Conti Finding Conti Reviewed by Elaine on 11:58 PM Rating: 5
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