“When my team loses the ball I go back to being a goalkeeper.” Because Mike Maignan is not just that. He is not just a goalkeeper. It is something more.
In football, the term ‘full-fledged’ has been coined to define a midfielder capable of playing practically anywhere in the middle of the pitch. He is able to both offend and defend. Mike Maignan, for his part, can only cover one position on the pitch, but still manages to be everywhere. Always present, always alive. Practically an ‘all-doorkeeper’.
You can say? No? And then we invent it right now. We sew this term on to Maignan. Because we have hardly seen in recent years such a complete goalkeeper, so constant in his performance and so incisive within a match. And we certainly don’t find out now. This is only the time to reiterate it, confirm it, legitimize it as it should be after a Scudetto won as an absolute protagonist. Or rather, after the second consecutive Scudetto won by the absolute protagonist.
It is no coincidence that this summer we told you to rest assured to those who lived Donnaruma’s farewell – small spoiler: in this article no comparisons or comparisons of any kind will be made with Gigio – as an irreversible drama. We told you that Maignan was strong. Potentially very strong. We told you how decisive he was, damn influential within the defensive context and beyond. We showed you the numbers of his spectacular 20/21 experience with the Lille champion of France shirt.
- 21 seasonal clean sheets
- Third best goalkeeper by percentage of saves in Europe
- 23 goals conceded, best defense of Ligue 1 and the top 5 European leagues
We told you that he would become the future number one of the French national team. A process that began with the first game as a starter played last March in his Lille friendly match against South Africa. At the World Championships in Qatar he will again be up to captain Lloris, after which he will leave the gloves to ‘Magic Mike’, who in the meantime is continuing his magical journey without stopping. He has only been in Milan for 10 months, but in reality it feels like 10 years.
The charisma with which he faced this first season with the Rossoneri must be innate. The personality, ditto. On and off the pitch, like when he came out on racism and hit him with clenched fists.
“I’m not a victim. I’m Mike, standing black and proud.”
Just a part of a strong, direct message, without mincing words, posted on his Instagram profile. He who has never had problems answering in kind. Like when in the days of PSG (because yes, paradoxically, that’s where he grew up) he allowed himself to reply to Ibra that he had insulted him.
“I remember a training session, at 17, in the first year as a professional. Ibrahimovic kicked balls at 400 km / h, even if he had to score for Buffon or Julio Cesar. I couldn’t save and then he says to me ‘You’re a shit keeper’. Except that right after I hit him with a shot and there I couldn’t help but answer him and said ‘And you’re a shit striker’“.
From that moment on, obviously, love blossomed between the two.
Or like when, just this season and right on the day of the derby, he found a way to anticipate what would later happen on the pitch. And he did it in the San Siro parking lot, addressing a valet.
“Today your car has to stay outside, this is Inter’s home today“.
“You just changed the furniture without my permission! San Siro was presented to me as the home of Milan. “
Not just words, but also and above all facts. In that derby, in his first derby, he upset the history of the championship with his saves, paving the way for Giroud’s comeback. In a season in which goalkeepers were more of a penalty than a bonus, Maignan maintained a consistency of performance out of the ordinary. In Salerno the first and only structural failure. After all, perfection does not exist.
There are decisive moments and in those Maignan perfection has almost reached it. With the hands on Vojvoda and Cabral, to name two above all. With feet for Leao, with the decisive assist made against Sampdoria. Maignan has never felt solely and exclusively a goalkeeper.
“As a child I didn’t want to play in goal with my friends, I wanted to score. In fact, in my head, I consider myself an outfield player. When my team has the ball, I take part in the game, I try to create outlets for my defenders. It is only when my team loses the ball that I feel like a goalkeeper again. After all, it’s my job“.
Here it is, here we go again with building from below, you say. In reality, Maignan’s all-goal skill is mainly contained in the Serie A statistics on the indice of verticality, that is the number of opposing players overcome with a successful long throw. Well, Maignan is pretty much a top in this type of statistic. On the occasion of the assist for Leao’s goal he took the advice of Silvio Berlusconi practically literally, who a few hours earlier had said that “The goalkeeper must know how to dictate the long pass for the attackers “.
The Maignan one, therefore, is never always and only a postponement, but a real verticalization from backlog. So much so that, during the time he was injured on his wrist, he was even used as an outfield player during exercises at Milanello.
Without Donnarumma everything seemed more difficult, but with Maignan everything became magically simpler. Like his save on Muriel’s only Atalanta shot on goal. Simple, apparently. Then you look at it well and you understand that it was because he is in goal, the one with the number 16. Mike Maignan.
Chosen by Goal