Friday November 30 2012
Milan’s goalkeeping conundrum

With Christian Abbiati’s contract set to expire in the summer, Milan have a goalkeeping decision to make. Antonio Labbate looks at their options.

You didn’t need to be an expert lip reader to understand what Adriano Galliani said. Sitting uncomfortably in the stands at the Stadio San Paolo, he was caught on camera screaming a couple of unpleasant obscenities at Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati. “Portiere di m... Portiere del c...”

“I’ve seen that shot again on 100 occasions and every time I don’t know how I wasn’t able to stop it,” Abbiati said of his failure to get behind a soft Gokhan Inler effort in the recent 2-2 draw in Naples. “I was a bit too far to the left, but the ball changed direction. It was like what Andrea Pirlo used to do to me in training a few years ago.”

Vice-President Galliani later apologised to the Rossoneri veteran in public and private, insisting that his inner fan had momentarily overtaken him. But that emotional outburst of frustration is one that some Diavolo supporters can relate to when it comes to a goalkeeper who has far too often mixed the sublime with the ridiculous.

No matter what reserve custodian Marco Amelia may say – “Abbiati and I are the best pair of goalkeepers in Italy” – the club have a serious decision to make at the end of the present campaign when it comes to the gloves. Abbiati’s contract will expire in June. He’ll then turn 36 in July. Do the outfit offer him a new one-year deal, do they replace him with Amelia or even a goalkeeper of the future?

It’s a tricky choice to make and obviously one dependant on two factors – the quality of the net-minder whom they could bring in and the costs of such an operation.

The Italian market has a number of interesting options, but all come with a footnote of doubt. Atalanta’s Andrea Consigli is someone whose career is heading in the right direction, but he lacks experience. He’s the kind of player who would benefit with a stint at a bigger mid-table club before potentially making the leap to San Siro.

It’s a similar scenario for Genoa-owned Mattia Perin, who joined Pescara on loan in the summer. A fine prospect no doubt, but it might be too much to ask him to play in such a responsible position for a club like the Diavolo when he’s not yet even assured of a regular place in the Italian Under-21 side.

Lazio’s Federico Marchetti could be a suitable target as he has the right mix of age, talent and experience, but capital chief Claudio Lotito notoriously sells at inflated asking prices. Marchetti, much like Abbiati and Amelia, can be prone to the odd costly error too.

It’s not going to be an easy decision to make for the Milan hierarchy, one complicated by the fact that signing a replacement for Abbiati should have been a problem posed in the past and subsequently already resolved. One can comprehend the strong bond between the club and a player who joined them in 1998 – he made key saves in the Scudetto success of 1999 and 2011 – but time waits for no man.

Last summer, Inter showed the kind of ruthlessness that is sometimes needed when they unceremoniously told Julio Cesar to find a new club. They replaced him with Udinese’s Samir Handanovic, a player who earns just €0.3m a season more than Abbiati, and an individual who has looked ready for the biggest stage for the last three seasons.

Handanovic was clearly a missed opportunity for the Rossoneri, but they now have the next six months to look around Italy, Europe or even South America if needed, and ponder their next move. If the conditions are right, they have to bring in a new shot-stopper, otherwise they’ll have to swear by Abbiati and accept that errors will be made.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
Marco - de gea would not be a good option. Too skinny and fragile to compete with the serie a. Sirigu would be fantastic he is young but strong and experienced
on the 5th December, 2012 at 8:54am
I say we for eiter sirigu, ter stegen, or even de gea if possible. There are plenty of already somewhat proven young goalkeepers. If not Amelia can handle it for atleast a year after abbiati goes
on the 3rd December, 2012 at 5:38pm
Crazy idea. Ferdinando Coppola and Amelia compete for the spot next season.
on the 3rd December, 2012 at 12:14pm
Clearly most of you didn't want the Olympics Gabriel was a disaster and that was at his age level. He's nowhere near ready. Consigli is the best option, he's experienced and has played regularly for Italy at youth level. Abbiati has been a fantastic servant for Milan, occasionally he makes blunders but he was huge in Milan's title winning seasons in 1999 and 2011.
on the 3rd December, 2012 at 2:17am
I say sign up Marc-Ander Ter Stegen or Bern Leno or Salvatore Sirigu are your best options. No way Loris is going anywhere since he just moved to Tottenham and Brad Friedle is in his 40's.
on the 2nd December, 2012 at 10:51pm
Amelia should be adequate. If Milan are adventurous and have money to spend, i highly recommend Stephan Ruffier of St Ettiene who reminds me of Buffon in his younger days..
on the 1st December, 2012 at 3:58am
I'm an inter fan and I think this is one of the stupidest articles I have ever read. It is simple. Put Amelia as first keeper, with Gabriel as his deputy. The 3rd keeper rarely gets used in Italy, so either promote a young keeper, sign an old veteran to act as mentor and also play, OR if abbiati is a real rossonero, he'll step back and take that 3rd keeper/mentor role.
on the 1st December, 2012 at 2:22am
Lloris and Gabriel are trash and don't even equal one keeper. Consigli, Perin, or Romero are all better options with Seria A experience. Keepers are forged, not bought...
on the 1st December, 2012 at 1:12am
Who cares.. We got ses. Best talent Italy had for the last20 years.
on the 30th November, 2012 at 9:53pm
Milan should sign Hugo Lloris from Tottenham. Their GK position will be covered for the next 10 years.
on the 30th November, 2012 at 9:45pm
What happens in Russia stays in Russia!
on the 30th November, 2012 at 8:28pm
Why in God's name Gabriel wasn't even given a mention. If this article was supposed to "look at their options", why Gabriel was forgotten?
on the 30th November, 2012 at 7:40pm

Leali is owned by Juve and Courtois is owned by Chelsea. I doubt they would let these two young starlets go. So that's minus two from your list.
on the 30th November, 2012 at 7:14pm
Gabriel, give him a chance. I've seen him play and he looks solid
on the 30th November, 2012 at 6:34pm
Time to bring Vito Mannone.
on the 30th November, 2012 at 6:10pm
What about the Milan youth team? is there any up and coming keepers coming from there?! Ive seen Narduzzo on the team sheet for the 1st team a couple of times and he has come from the primavera. Give youth a chance, I wouldn't mind giving Gabriel a chance, I think Amelia is a decent keeper though he should also be considered.
on the 30th November, 2012 at 6:07pm
We all agree that, aside from a few, very rare great saves, Abbiati is a TERRIBLE keeper, right? Always coming out of goal at the wrong time, always jumping feet first to make saves, barely punches the ball out properly when necessary. Definitely the weakest link in the team... I miss you Thiago Silva :-(
on the 30th November, 2012 at 5:46pm
"He’s the kind of player who would benefit with a stint at a bigger mid-table club before potentially making the leap to San Siro."

Uhhh yeah bigger mid-table like Atalanta, amirite?

He's proven himself more than admirably. If you ask me he's ready for a spot.
on the 30th November, 2012 at 3:32pm
Milan should get Consigli. He is one of the best goalkeepers in Italy and his form doesn't seem to stop. And I think Atalanta is a big enough club. They are a strong team and have a lot of players that people are paying attention to.
on the 30th November, 2012 at 2:42pm
There is also the issue of the defense in front of the keeper. Realistically, all rossoneri thought defense would be our weak spot this year after losing thiago silva and nesta. They limited the shots on goal to ridiculous shots or amazing shots. Abbiati hasn't been tested like this in years. Yes, he is getting older and will need to be replaced. I like Romero as well as leali, courtois from atletico Madrid, forester from Celtic, and there are solid keepers in Germany. But good cbs will help!
on the 30th November, 2012 at 1:20pm
To those saying Gabriel - he has never played a competitive club game in his career for either Cruzeiro or Milan. I think it'd be a massive, massive gamble to give him the No 1 jersey.
on the 30th November, 2012 at 12:52pm
Consigli has played nearly 100 Serie A games (he will have surpassed that by the end of the season), is a good age at 25 and has improved every year. He's more reliable than Viviano, for instance, so is surely worth a go. Most importantly he's a better goalkeeper than both Amelia and Abbiati are at the moment.

I've read that his contract is set to expire so there's a possibility he'd cost nothing too.

Win Win.
on the 30th November, 2012 at 12:50pm
@Adam - You cannot say things like that. Simone Barone is also a world cup winner, but he wasn't top class player anytime in his entire career. The same with Amelia. He is a good reserve GK and no way near first option for giant club like Milan.
It is a shame the author didnt say a word about Gabriel as a hot prospect and writting about looking talented GKs in South America instead.
on the 30th November, 2012 at 12:37pm
They had Handanovic, Julio Cesar and Viviano available. But, Milan almost never signed a Super goalkeeper. Although, I had never seen a Super goalkeeper except GiGi, & Zoff before him.

Viviano is the only goalkeeper to be considered ready for big times, but I doubt that Viola would ever let go of him.
on the 30th November, 2012 at 12:32pm
"Gabriel"!!He deserve a chance.
on the 30th November, 2012 at 12:19pm
What happened to Akinfeev from Russia? He was really promising, and he was great in Euro 2008. The new Dasaev! Milan should sign him!
on the 30th November, 2012 at 11:51am
Marco Amelia is a world cup winner although he never played I think Milan should let him have a go next season, if he fails perhaps try sign another, I once read that if Juve didnt get sent to Serie B Buffon was going to sign for Milan in 2006 for a new challange but he got his new challange in Serie B so stayed. Milan if Amelia fails should look at Sergio Romero of Samp.
on the 30th November, 2012 at 11:40am

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