The saying, “They don’t make them like they used to”, is apt when comparing today’s Italian defenders to those of the glorious past. Claudio Gentile, Gaetano Scirea and Franco Baresi are just three of the many central defenders that have blessed and come to define Italian football. But, many believe that another has finally emerged, Mattia De Sciglio.
Franco Baresi is one of these believers, as he explained earlier this year: “He possesses great quality and he has shown it ever since he was young. I remember Paolo Maldini when he started out – he played with a boldness and confidence, but also provided security. De Sciglio has those qualities too.”
Perhaps more telling is that the great man himself, Maldini, thinks De Sciglio is destined for great things and that he is a bit like he was back in the day: “I like watching Mattia play, I like the way he runs down the flank and keeps his position, he has the advantage that he can play on both the left and the right.
“He has the style to play for Milan and the personality for Milan. Physically he can still improve a lot but even when I was 20 years old I was not fully mature and was not a complete athlete. I believe he will do the same.”
De Sciglio first appeared for Milan in the 2011-12 campaign, but, it was last season when he really broke through, establishing himself as a regular. His fine displays were duly awarded too, starting for the Azzurri in a friendly with Brazil and a World Cup qualifier against Malta in March of 2013.
Impressed, Cesare Prandelli opted to take him to the Confederations Cup in Brazil last summer. In the challenging conditions, De Sciglio performed admirably and started no less than four of Italy’s five games. Only 20-years-old at the time, the young defender displayed a maturity well beyond his years as he earned yet more praise and more comparisons with the great Maldini.
Injuries have hampered his progress a bit this season but when he has been fit he has started for Milan. He is very much seen as the future at the club. Though, this has not quelled rumours that he may leave, especially when cashed-up clubs Manchester United and Real Madrid are said to be interested.
For Italy however, De Sciglio has just made one appearance since the Confederations Cup. Injuries have been the main factor but it is reason enough to question just how much he is part of Prandelli’s plans.
One would think that given the dearth of promising young defenders, De Sciglio simply has to go back to Brazil even if just to gain big tournament experience. The former Fiorentina boss might have other plans, but if he cares anything for the future of La Nazionale beyond the summer, he will grant De Sciglio a spot on the plane.