Riccardo Montolivo admits even he is surprised at how quickly he has become a key figure at Milan, as he prepares to face Napoli this evening.
The midfielder arrived in the summer on a free transfer from Fiorentina and could wear the captain’s armband again this evening, as Massimo Ambrosini is injured. Click here for a match preview.
“I certainly was convinced that I’d do well here and prove myself at a big club, but it was difficult to predict settling in so well and so quickly,” he told the Corriere dello Sport newspaper.
“I was coming off a good Euro 2012, but I do tend to need a few months to get into peak physical shape. I chose Milan because I finally want to win something in my career.
“From the first day I arrived here, I started to learn from the more experienced players what it means to be part of a great club for such a long time.
“At the moment I am taking Andrea Pirlo’s role in tactical terms, although I am prepared to play in any midfield position apart from trequartista. My reference points are Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Daniele De Rossi, as they can defend and attack so well. They are total midfielders.”
Milan need to keep their wits about them this evening against Napoli, as the pressure often got to the team against Barcelona and Fiorentina.
“In both those games I’d say it was more a psychological issue. There is such a fine line and we slipped. Again last Sunday we should’ve been more focused to bring home such an important result in Florence. This is also why the clash with Napoli is a test of our maturity.
“We are a team who thrive on pace and intensity, so once those drop we lose effectiveness. It is a strength that can become a weakness when we don’t play that type of football.”