Will “Magic Mike” Maignan succeed Lloris as easily as Donnarumma with AC Milan?

“Guys, on set pieces and wide free kicks, we quickly position ourselves in the zone. And I tell you lower or higher. The short locker room video published on Sunday by the French football team on social networks demonstrated all the natural authority that Mike Maignan exuded, before his big premiere in the shoes of a real holder of the Blues against the Netherlands ( 4-0). The issue of the succession of a monument like Hugo Lloris (145 selections) does not inhibit the Milanese, who will do it again this Monday (8:45 p.m.) in Ireland, quite the contrary. His penalty saved against Memphis Depay (90th + 3), one of his great specialties (35% of saves in the career exercise), was one of the highlights of the tricolor demonstration, Friday at the Stade of France.

“I felt all the confidence of the team, the group, the stadium, all this strength, slipped the interested party to Téléfoot. Before, I had not prepared with more pressure than that. “We want to believe it, as the former Lille has released an unfailing serenity, certainly in the face of a sluggish Dutch attack. The solid guy of 1.91 m thus proved, if there was really need for it, that this costume of holder in the France team fits him like a glove, at 27 years old. A new step could not be more logical for a goalkeeper who had managed to forget the former icon of AC Milan Gianluigi Donnarumma in just a few months last season.

“He didn’t like to block the ball”

For his first experience abroad, the Guyanese had thus been a major player in the first Calcio won by the Lombard club for eleven years, with 17 clean sheets in 32 Serie A games. A club record immediately superior to that displayed by the Nazionale goalkeeper in six seasons in Milan (the 2016 Italian Super Cup and basta for the hero of Euro 2021) . Former legendary AC Milan goalkeeper (from 2000 to 2010), Dida was Mike Maignan’s coach last season at Milanello. In an interview for the official Serie A channel, he explained in January all the determination that accompanied the former Lille goalkeeper on his arrival in Italy.

From our first meeting, he told me that he had signed for Milan for two reasons: he wanted to work with me and he wanted to win with AC Milan, which he considers to be the biggest club in the world. Coming to Milan means taking on a great responsibility. He has an incredible personality. »

The former Seleçao goalkeeper also slipped a few tracks as to the progress made in Calcio by Mike Maignan: “He was already an explosive goalkeeper in Lille but he did not like to block the ball. So we worked hard to fix that and improve his cross timings. He has improved so much technically. We were surprised to see its rapid evolution, day after day”.

Again decisive in the knockout round of the Champions League return against Tottenham, Mike Maignan has been unanimous in Milan since his arrival in 2021.
Again decisive in the knockout round of the Champions League against Tottenham, Mike Maignan has been unanimous in Milan since his arrival in 2021. – Matt Impey / SIPA

Considered at 20 as the fourth goalkeeper at PSG

Long before following in the footsteps of references like Donnarumma and now Lloris, Mike Maignan has been chomping at the bit without making waves at Paris Saint-Germain. Despite the praise of his trainers, from 2009 to 2015, at the age of 20, he was given a place… as the fourth goalkeeper in the hierarchy of the professional group, behind Trapp, Sirigu and Douchez. Enough to precipitate the departure of a Parisian titi who never had a chance in his training club, and whom PSG supporters regret today at least as much as Kingsley Coman.

However, the take-off was not immediate for Mike Maignan in Lille. Lining for the solid Nigerian Vincent Enyeama from 2015 to 2017, he is going through his first year as a starter, in 2017-2018. During a collectively disastrous season started with Marcelo Bielsa, the one who still had nothing of the current “Magic Mike” (his nickname in Italy) is also suffering, with 53 goals conceded in 34 Ligue 1 games. 18th defense , this adrift Losc (17th) saves its place in the elite in extremis. The rest is quite different for the rock of Cayenne, which conceded 20 fewer goals in 2018-2019 (33 in 38 days).

“He is a champion in mentality, like Zlatan”

And this before the consecration in 2020-2021, with this totally unexpected coronation in Ligue 1, and almost as many clean sheets (21 in 38 games) than goals conceded (23), in a more than perfect season. According to Vincent Enyeama, his predecessor in the Lille goal, this delay in ignition was only a small mishap. “We immediately saw that Mike had this little extra something that could allow him to go far, assured the Nigerian to The voice of the North, in January 2021. He was pure talent but also a hard worker. There is no secret, this is what makes the difference. »

Injured twice in the calf last fall, and therefore forfeited for the World Cup in Qatar, it is as always in the work that Mike Maignan took refuge to return to his best level. “He’s a champion in the Mike mentality, confirms his coach in Milan Stefano Pioli. He looks like Zlatan, in that he wants to be the best every day. “His secret to fully taste life in Blue, symbolized by this hug with Hugo Lloris at the end of the match against the Netherlands. “He exudes so much confidence and serenity, appreciates Didier Deschamps. He is also a leader so I had no doubts about what he is capable of doing. “A priori, “doubts” and “Magic Mike” do not go well together.

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