“I had nothing against Parma and Genoa – I thank the two clubs for the interest shown, but I was hoping for a high level solution. And luckily, Milan remembered me. I couldn’t have hoped for more…I’m here to respond to their trust with facts.”
When Milan swooped in to sign Silvestre from rivals Inter several days ago, it gave the defender from Mercedes, Argentina, a second chance – a chance to prove that he belongs in a top team. Always the shrewd businessman, Galliani only spent €1m for the loan deal and negotiated a fixed purchase price of €4m. The Rossoneri are placing a smart bet that the defender can recover the form that made him one of Serie A’s most valuable defensive commodities only a couple of years ago.
It would be too easy to label Silvestre’s tenure at Inter as a flop, and indeed, it was. Yet, that term could just as easily have been applied to practically any player of Andrea Stramaccioni’s Inter. Expected to fight for a starting spot, Matias was unable to force his way into the team, ending up as the fourth choice central defender behind Andrea Ranocchia, Juan Jesus and Walter Samuel.
To make matters worse, Silvestre, like many of his teammates, suffered through two separate injuries that shelved him for two months total between the end of February and May. Had he managed to stay healthy, there was a good possibility he would have seen more action given Walter Samuel was out with an Achilles’ problem.
Nonetheless, Silvestre was limited to a grand total of nine appearances in Serie A and nine more in the Europa League. His showings were average at best and he hardly resembled the confident defender who had played brilliantly for Catania and Palermo. It cemented claims that Matias performs well for a provincial side, but he is just not cut out for a top club. He buckled under the pressure and expectation that comes with joining one of Serie A’s elite teams.
So, did Milan make a poor move to sign him? An examination of the player’s past in the Italian top flight quickly dispels that notion.
Making his way over to the peninsula from Argentine giants Boca Juniors, Silvestre began his career in Italy with Catania. During his three seasons with the Elefanti, Silvestre developed into one of the better stoppers in the League. He possessed a physical style, strong in the air and had good footwork, an attribute attested to his earlier days playing as a midfielder.
By the summer of 2011, Silvestre was ready to move up the ladder. When Palermo signed him for €7.3m, the Rosanero beat out competition from other top sides in Serie A. The South American had an immediate impact at the club and was immovable from the starting lineup. His eye for goal was an added bonus as he led Serie A in scoring as a defender for the second year in a row. After the campaign, he made the jump to Inter, who acquired him for €8m.
Now at Milan, Silvestre joins a club that is already thin at the back. With Philippe Mexes and Cristian Zapata as the preferred duo and Daniele Bonera out for two to three months due to a fractured patella, Matias benefits from an opportunity to showcase his talents with less pressure given the nature of his transfer. He is a great, low-cost option for Milan’s backline and brings a wealth of Serie A experience that a young player like Jherson Vergara cannot provide. His tactical awareness and positioning should fit in nicely with Allegri’s style and his ability to score goals is an added bonus.
It’s a potential win-win situation for the club. If Silvestre does not pan out, Milan will only lose the money paid to loan him while saving the €4m it would cost to purchase him outright. Should he thrive in his new surroundings, though, Silvestre will be just another smart gamble at a low price that paid off for Galliani and Milan.