The Milan Goalkeeper Dilemma

Last season, Maignan was out injured for almost two months after having surgery for a small fracture and ligament damage. With an international break tucked in the middle of that, and him returning sooner than expected, Milan's season survived the absence, but just barely. This season, his calf injuries have seen him out since the end of September, and Milan have missed him sorely. Much has been discussed about signing a new second keeper in January, with Milan heavily linked with Atalanta's Sportiello. However, the news surprised many as 24 year-old Devis Vasquez arrived in Milano last night ahead of medicals today to sign permanently. But will he be the solution to Milan's goalkeeper dilemma? Or is he even intended to be?

One of these keepers is not like the others

In an interview with journalist Luca Bianchin of La Gazzetta dello Sport, who specifically covers Milan, he overstated the obvious. He said that Milan's second goalkeeper is inferior to the backup keepers at the other big clubs. He pointed out that while Tatarusanu has done well enough deputizing for Maignan, he simply lacks the quality that other second keepers have at other Serie A clubs. I do not know anyone who would argue with that, even Tatarusanu probably would not.

Yet no one knows yet when Maignan will return. He gave the French keeper a 50% chance of returning by the Supercoppa with Inter on the 18th. Bianchin also detailed that it is more than just the shot stopping that Milan miss at the back, it is Maignan's relationship with Kalulu and Tomori and also his leadership skills. As for who will start on Wednesday, Tatarusanu or Maignan, he left that one up to Pioli. Mirante impressed in the penalty shootout vs. Liverpool, and was given more time on Friday as well. Honestly, for me, they are not that different in terms of skill, and we simply need more to be competitive in goal. Especially to actually compete in all four competitions.

Devis Vasquez must be excited to make the big jump to Serie A and Milan

As with Maignan's signing, Maldini and Massara have kept their negotiations with the Colombian Vasquez relatively quiet, surprising everyone this week with the news of his imminent signing. They are signing him from Paraguayan side Club Guariní, where he joined their U23 team in January of 2020. He was promoted to the first team a year later and only began to play as their starting goalkeeper this year. His "welcome to Milan" highlight videos, which fans obviously had to put up before medicals or contract signings,  demonstrate excellent reflexes. What they do not show are the 44 goal conceded in the 31 matches he played with Guariní, even if four of those 31 matches were clean sheets. But if he is anything like Maignan has turned out, despite his injuries, I cannot wait to see him play for Milan.

Bianchin speculated that Vasquez would have already been a planned signing, before the length of Maignan's injuries was known. Also given the fact that he has to return to Colombia to manage some bureaucratic issues and will not be joining Milan until January 10th makes it less likely that he is intended to fill the gap before Maignan's much-anticipated return. More than likely, he was signed to remind Tatarusanu and Mirante that their contracts are up at the end of the season, and one or both of them are unlikely to be extended. A signing moving forward, not necessarily to rescue us now.

Budgets, injuries, renewals, and transfers must be keeping these two up at night

So what do Milan do now? Do we sign another keeper on loan for six months to cover for Maignan for any more potential injuries? Or do we roll the dice and hope that he has a healthy 2023, and that Tatarusanu and Mirante can do enough to get through whatever time he is still out? While linked with Sportiello, a new injury to Atalanta's starting goalkeeper Musso makes a deal for Sportiello in January even less likely. Other options discussed in the media seem even less concrete.

While Maldini and Massara did sign Mirante as an emergency signing last season when Maignan had to have surgery, the fact that they did not do the same thus far this year may indicate a continued conservative approach. With new injuries to Rebić and Ballo-Touré in the PSV "friendly" on Friday, the temptation to sign more players at multiple positions must be there. But the squad is already larger than normal, and some players would need to leave to justify bringing in new players. However, we do have an unprecedented schedule ahead of us, with four competitions looming. Our directors are probably not getting much sleep right now, wrestling with the Milan goalkeeper dilemma.

This post inspired by the music of Muse's "Sing for Absolution"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 16
Salernitana vs. Milan
Wednesday, January 4, 2023 • 12:30 CET (6:30am EST)

The Milan Goalkeeper Dilemma The Milan Goalkeeper Dilemma Reviewed by Elaine on 12:00 AM Rating: 5
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