Friday December 22 2017
Montolivo rebirth at Milan

After being stripped of his captaincy and midfield role, Riccardo Montolivo has found a new lease on life at Milan, writes Matthew Santangelo.

Between sustaining serious injuries that prevented him from competing at major international tournaments with Italy to his documented struggles as captain of a fallen giant, football life hasn’t been easy for Milan midfielder Riccardo Montolivo.

Over the last several years, the former Atalanta academy product had been rightfully criticized for his poor performances, yet somehow, was handed one contract extension after another. As the Rossoneri take on his first club at San Siro on Saturday, poor form means the 888sport betting odds are surprisingly stacked against them.

The previous management of Silvio Berlusconi and CEO Adriano Galliani refused to strip him of the armband, and bring in someone worthy of its prestige, which fueled intense supporter angst.

Montolivo’s captaincy just about summed up everything wrong with Milan in what’s been labeled ‘the Banter Era’. However, once Chinese owners purchased the club from Berlusconi and came bearing gifts in the form of money and renewed hope, it was crystal clear Montolivo’s time was up – or so it seemed.

Once strapped for cash, the red and black finally had the ability to spend on top talent, and with that, finally upgrade all over, including the midfield – a department that’s been sorely missing difference-makers for years.

After Lucas Biglia arrived and Leonardo Bonucci moved from Juventus, it was obvious that Montolivo would not only be relieved of the armband acquired from Massimo Ambrosini in June 2013, but also his starting position.

To much surprise, neither new buy started well, nor did the club collectively play to the lofty expectations bestowed upon them in the summer. Because the new owners had invested a ton of money into this 2017-18 squad, the pressure to perform mounted. Yet, with Bonucci and Biglia’s struggles to find form, and Montella under the cosh, a chance at redemption presented itself to Montolivo.

Since returning to the starting XI, the 32-year old has found a new lease on life at Milan, something that seemed beyond the realm of possibility with both Biglia and Manuel Locatelli receiving more looks from Montella before he was sacked.

Under Gennaro Gattuso, Montolivo has undeniably earned his midfield role in the 4-3-3, turning in one steady performance after another, and has been a breath of fresh air for supporters who once thought they should rid themselves of his mediocrity.

Though he isn’t doing anything extraordinary with regards to his pass circulation, it’s the calming presence and consistency that allows Milan’s build-up to smoothly operate, look respectable and create chances. Dishing out the simple, high percentage balls, with the occasional risky one over the top, looks like the Montolivo of old at the very beginning of his career in Milano.

Furthermore, the ex-Fiorentina standout’s defensive efforts have aided the backline to the point where that alone is worthy of minutes. They’ve also given the likes of Franck Kessie and Giacomo Bonaventura the license to support in the attacking phase while he sits back, sweeps up and dictates play.

Since the days of Andrea Pirlo roaming about as the deep-lying playmaker of the Rossoneri, Milan has lacked a formidable ‘regista’ to pull the strings and keep things tidy in the middle of the park.

Biglia was brought in from Lazio to fulfill these duties and be the key cog to tie it all together – but so far, to no avail. With Locatelli still 19 and raw in many respects, it’s easy to see how Montolivo’s found himself back playing a key role for Milan at the end of 2017.

After spending north of €200m on nearly a dozen new faces, there were several casualties as a result of the new Milan regime. Instead of following them out the door, Montolivo stuck around and has been reborn – and he hopes his club can do the same sooner rather than later.

Have your say...
It’s that attitude that made Montella and the directors think they needed to change the entire squad. And the gutted any kind of unity or intensity that had been built up the previous season and seasons. This stuff doesn’t happen over night.
on the 22nd December, 2017 at 7:59pm
“Once strapped for cash, the red and black finally had the ability to spend on top talent, and with that, finally upgrade all over, including the midfield – a department that’s been sorely missing difference-makers for years.” It’s this attitude that got us into the current mess. The transfer market does not hold the key to success in football. It all comes down to the manager. If Sarri was in charge of last season’s team we’d have finished in the 3.
on the 22nd December, 2017 at 7:57pm
Gattuso’s interview and the whole ritiro thing is embarrassing. The players aren’t trying to lose or afraid or dropping levels because they don’t care. They simply aren’t being instructed to do the right things because Gattuso does not have the experience. This weekend he’ll be up against another better, more experienced manager so milan are at a massive disadvantage.
on the 22nd December, 2017 at 7:52pm
Montolivo is a completely unnecessary step back for Milan. jMriThe summer was the obvious time to move him on particularly once we signed Biglia. He’s now blocking Locatelli’s development in what should have been a key season. We don’t need 3 players with similar characteristics. We should’ve kept Kucka who was natural cover for Kessie.
on the 22nd December, 2017 at 7:48pm
Montolivo and Milan, lol. Is it any wonder Milan is where it is? Mediocre. And this mediocre player who beleive's the goal is behind him is the only thing for Milan? Joke.
on the 22nd December, 2017 at 6:43pm
on the 22nd December, 2017 at 6:36pm
Montolivo has always been a consistent player with excellent long balls and will remain a high percentage passer. His defensive game has increased in efficacy as well. He should stay. Milan need a player like him to perform well, like he can.
on the 22nd December, 2017 at 5:41pm
ahhhh montolivo.

better yes. i think he's been playing out of position this whole time. he is not a regista, but a trequartista. he always plays better up the feild (maybe because his mistakes aren't at the back and costing milan goals).
not milan quality, nothing against riccardo, i'd keep him, but especially his age.. on the bench, rotation, experience and point of reference. milan has given me so much, i think the balance is in the negative adesso. give me some more wins please!!!!!!!!!!!!!
on the 22nd December, 2017 at 3:12pm
Sooo let me get this straight you ourchased the best defender in the world and he needs to improve hahahhaahah improve hahahaah he is improving hahahah
on the 22nd December, 2017 at 2:42pm
Sooo let me get this straight you ourchased the best defender in the world and he needs to improve hahahhaahah improve hahahaah he is improving hahahah
on the 22nd December, 2017 at 2:41pm
Wow bonucci ready to give up on milan already. Its his fault they suck so bad and he just wants to walk out. Cant really blame him for getting off the sinking ship or can i. Milan need to sell in january or else his value will decrease every time he plays garbage. Such a whiney little loser.
on the 22nd December, 2017 at 2:38pm
On another note,there are many rumors that Chelsea are interested in signing Bonucci in January.I know he's been improving but if he can bring in enough money for Milan to sign a decent left winger & Jankto then I'm all for selling him.Romagnoli,Musacchio,Gomez,Zapata may be enough in defense.
on the 22nd December, 2017 at 11:38am
He is a tidy player IMO, Perhaps having to be no longer the captain of a very average team has released the pressure on him. Milan fans are demanding but they have such a poor side its unrealistic to think they will be in the top 6.
on the 22nd December, 2017 at 11:32am
Yes Monti had a few solid games but have the past few seasons taught us nothing?This wont last.Last season,Locatelli had more good games than Monti had in his entire Milan career.Serie A is over for us,if we want to win the Europa League,we must develop our talent.Cutrone,Silva,Locatelli,Mauri need to play more often.We already lost Petagna,Shaarawy,Paloschi,Saponara,Verdi,Cristante.Kalinic,Borini,Monti,Biglia had years to prove their worth & none can be considered a great player.
on the 22nd December, 2017 at 11:29am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.