The Shameless Maldini Appreciation Post

I am one of millions of fans around the world for whom Paolo Maldini is my all-time favorite player. He was a phenomenal defender, is an extraordinary human being, and has become a formidable sporting director in such a short period of time. His sacrifices of family, retirement, and sleep have brought Milan out of the depths of despair and back into the spotlight, despite opposition at every turn from Milan management. So, for no particular reason, today I offer the shameless Maldini appreciation post.

Killing it again at Milan

If you never saw Paolo Maldini play, then you have not lived. On the pitch, he was a brilliant, elegant, and impeccable defender. Following his father's footsteps, he sweat blood for Milan from the youth teams in 1978, through an illustrious career filled with five Champions League trophies and seven Scudetti, amongst his many trophies. He played alongside il Capitano, Franco Baresi, and then he became captain after Baresi's retirement. Both of those captains are the only two players to have their numbers retired. A true bandiera, he only played for one club: AC Milan. His father also played for and captained Milan, and now his youngest son, Daniel is in Milan's first team as well, and was recently amongst UEFA's list of young players to watch for.

Continuing in the family business

But this post is about what Maldini is doing now. After retiring in 2009, Galliani refused to allow Maldini to be a part of the club in any way. When the club was sold, however, Maldini eventually came back, but only when there was a project in place that he believed in. Leonardo is the one who convinced him to give up his sleep and his comfortable family life for the club of his life. Only Leonardo bailed a year later, citing differences of opinion with Gazidis. Gattuso, the surprise coach that led us to one point from Champions League qualification, also left by mutual consent.

The first two generations of Maldinis won everything

Maldini was promoted from just a director to Sporting Director, and that is when Milan changed forever. Together with fellow legend Boban, they transformed the team into a young, exciting team, with some experience, that returned to winning ways and has never looked back. Despite Gazidis initially blocking the experience of players like Ibrahimovic and Fabregas, Maldini finally convinced him to let Ibrahimovic return, and the rest is history. Beautiful, glorious history.

Despite Gazidis firing Boban, trying to hire Rangnick behind the legends' backs to replace them, undermining the team ahead of the Genoa and Juventus matches last March and June, and spending the club into an FFP nightmare, Maldini decreased the squad size, lowered the wage bill with every mercato, and improved the overall quality of the team for insanely low transfer costs. Both financially and from a sporting perspective, Maldini has absolutely killed it since taking charge.

Maldini, Pioli, & Massara >>> Rangnick

This past mercato, he brought in the likes of Hauge, Tonali, Rebic, Saelemaekers, and Kjaer for only €28m cost over the summer. That is less than most clubs are paying for one player, and the quality and contributions of each one of those players speaks for themselves. Now, in this transfer window, he signed Meïté on loan, got Mandzukic on a free transfer, while Tomori is reportedly taking his medicals today, on a loan deal from Chelsea. And he's probably not even done yet for this window.

Finding gems and building champions

The level of quality of the players, as well as their low cost and wages is an impossible feat in this day and age, and yet Maldini has managed the impossible. The players all acknowledge his influence in signing for Milan, even with higher wages offered elsewhere. He has nearly singlehandedly turned this club around and put us back on target to contend for European and league trophies again. Certainly, we must give the players and Pioli credit, as well as the support of the entire club. But when you look at what has changed at the club after these nightmarish past ten years, all signs point to Maldini.

Succeeding against all odds

Maldini has worked professionally and quietly to right this ship, even while staving off the threat of Gazidis hiring Rangnick to replace him. Milan fans who would have thrown the Milan legend out with the garbage probably don't even realize half of the sacrifices Maldini has made to restore the glory to this club, but I do. Words cannot describe what he has done, or how much of a difference he has made at Milan since returning. That is why I had to write the shameless Maldini appreciation post.

This post inspired by the music of Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 19
Milan vs. Atalanta
Saturday, January 23 • 18:00 CET (12noon EST)

The Shameless Maldini Appreciation Post The Shameless Maldini Appreciation Post Reviewed by Elaine on 5:22 AM Rating: 5
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