Simon Kjaer: Six Degrees of Serie A

Simon Kjaer’s entire career has been a long road to AC Milan. The Danish national team captain is no stranger to Serie A, and that path was always six degrees of separation from his current destination as a Rossonero... or at least six clubs of separation. See if you can follow our center back’s path up until now…

The road less travelled

Simon Thorup Kjaer was born in Denmark, where he spent his earliest years at a little club near his home town of Horsens. In 2004, at the age of 15, he joined the youth team of FC Midtjylland. He was promoted to their first team in January 2007, where he made 19 appearances in his one and a half seasons with them. FC Midtjylland had already turned down an offer for him from Lille in 2006. But in August of 2007, they also turned down an offer for him from Real Madrid after he had a successful trial with Los Blancos. Why? Because clearly that path would not have brought him to AC Milan.

Pretty in Pink?

6) Palermo
Kjaer’s first introduction to Serie A was with Palermo in 2008. He would go on to make 62 appearances for the club in two years, and his form was so impressive, that in true Milan spirit, he actually beat current Inter player Christian Eriksen to be crowned 2009 Danish Talent of the year. He was also awarded Danish Footballer of the year for 2009. Denmark were not the only ones impressed with his form. Amongst teams interested in him were both Milan and Juventus, with Ancelotti giving him words of praise, yet the team not able to strike a deal for the defender with Crazy Zamparini. But that’s just as well, because I promised you 6 degrees of separation.

5) VfL Wolfsburg
His path took him to the Bundesliga next, to Wolfsburg. His first season there was a little rocky, with coaching changes and an injury. But he managed to score a goal, and form a solid defensive partnership with Italy and future Juventus defender, Andrea Barzagli.

Good, but not Mexes

4) Roma
For the 2011-12 season, Kjaer was sent on loan to Roma… to replace Philippe Mexes, who was heading to Milan. He made 22 appearances for the club with only one red card. Apparently unable to create the red card tally of his predecessor, he was sent back to Wolfsburg. He managed to play the 2012-13 season there, even scoring two goals and making an assist.

3) Lille
Clearly, Kjaer had his mind on the French player Mexes, so he looked to France and Lille as the next logical step toward Milan. Or perhaps it was because they had wanted him seven years prior. Either way, He had a good run of form there, playing 66 matches and scoring one goal. He was often in the Ligue 1 Team of the Week, and at the end of the season, made their Team of the Season, as well.

Ibra:"I'm gonna bring you with me back to Milan in 4 years, and you're gonna like it!"

2) Fenerbahce
How does someone get to Milan by way of France and Turkey? This move actually brought Kjaer notoriously closer to Milan than ever. While playing in the Europa League for Fenerbahce, Kjaer gained the affection of former and current Milan player, Ibrahimovic. That really set the ball rolling…. Slowly. Kjaer played 54 matches for Fenerbahce over two seasons, scoring three goals.

1) Sevilla
His final club of separation would be in Spain, for Sevilla, in 2017. He would play a total of 46 matches, scoring two goals in all. Sevilla tried to get him to Milan, but their bus must have broken down in Bergamo, because he spent the first half of the season on loan to Atalanta. He was deemed not good enough for Gasperini’s amazing Champions League team, and if you’re not good enough for Atalanta, where do you go? That’s right, Milan.

Gasperini: "You're just too old"

Kjaer has done reasonably well so far in the few matches he has played. He seems to be considered better than Musacchio by Pioli, but may lose his berth to the young Gabbia, who has really impressed. Kjaer is good in the air, and great at blocking and clearances. He likes to play shorter passes, but he is ironically pretty good at free kicks. He seems a bit weak on focus, but that may be due to forming a new partnership with new teammates.

That's Captain Kjaer to you

The Danish captain reached that honor by representing Denmark at every level from U18-U21. His first senior national team callup was in 2009, and he has made 95 appearances for them, scoring three goals. He played for them in the 2010 World Cup, then the 2012 Euros, and again in 2018 at the World Cup.

"Stop him with a series of small fouls and one hard foul..." He's been given another chance

Kjaer has been involved with some football lover’s spats, and has never been afraid to call people out. My favorite story was the time in 2010 that he told the reporters that Cristiano Ronaldo should be stopped by a series of small fouls and one hard foul. The Portuguese Whiners Association formally complained to FIFA, trying to get Kjaer punished, but they were unsuccessful.

The most important thing is after a career in and out of Italy, Kjaer has finally made it to his six degrees of separation. He has experience and wisdom to offer, he has Serie A experience, too. We may not be retiring his number or anything, but he brought strength in when we needed some depth. He is married with a couple of beautiful children, and he behaves well off the pitch. Even if it took him six degrees of separation and a loan deal to get here, I think he was worth the wait.

This post inspired by the music of Linkin Park’s “Heavy”

Simon Kjaer: Six Degrees of Serie A Simon Kjaer: Six Degrees of Serie A Reviewed by Elaine on 2:37 AM Rating: 5
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