Maignan: “It’s an objective of mine to bring Milan back to the top of Europe as well, I immediately felt at home here, racism? Complaining no longer enough”

0
Mike Maignan celebrating with the fans after winning the Scudetto at Casa Milan on May 22, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

Mike Maignan spoke to La Gazzetta dello Sport, covering different topics.

The last two years have been dreamy for Mike Maignan: in 2020/21 he won the league title with Lille; a year later he lifted the Scudetto with Milan, ending their 11-year wait.

“Both clubs hadn’t won for a long time, but they did it with a group of young players, flanked by experienced players. Before arriving in Milan I spoke at length with Maldini, Massara, Pioli, Dida and even Leão; so I knew there were great ambitions here,” Mike told La Gazzetta’s Alessandro Grandesso.

Was the Scudetto with Milan or the title with Lille more exciting?
“At that moment, at Reggio Emilia, I thought it was more intense at Lille. Then when I saw what happened in the Piazza in Milano, I felt it was truly something incredible, crazy.”

The season was a bit of a long Derby with Inter but when did you realize that the Scudetto was yours?
“Already at the beginning there was the will to try. Then we had a less positive period in which we almost panicked. But we talked to each other and got back to work, telling each other that it wasn’t over, that there were still many games left. And when Inter stumbled at Bologna, we realized it was over for them, because we were now focused on ourselves. And thanks also to Inter: after the 3-0 defeat in the Coppa Italia we had the knife between our teeth. That defeat motivated us a lot…”

Alexis Saelemaekers and Mike Maignan celebrating the Scudetto with the team bus on May 23, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

Ronaldinho says that this Milan team has fewer stars but the same spirit as that of the 2011 Scudetto…
“Maybe he’s right: we don’t have very big names, but we are a team imbued with the will to win and with a lot of talent: the right ingredients to construct a strong collective.”

You talk to Pioli a lot during matches…
“At the beginning I did it out of necessity, because what was asked of me at Lille by Galtier was different. Tactically, in France we reasoned more on the zone. In Italy, on the other hand, there’s more man-to-man play. I talk to the coach to manage certain situations in the best possible way. He gives me a lot of advice from a tactical point of view, and sometimes I suggest him ideas and alternatives. The great thing is that with Pioli you can dialogue.”

Mike Maignan and Alessandro Florenzi celebrating the Scudetto with the team bus on May 23, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

With Dida was there an immediate ‘feeling’?
“The fact that he was there as goalkeeping coach was an extra stimulus, because I knew he would allow me to improve, given that he was one of the best in the world. And then from a technical and physical size point of view we are similar, which helps. When I met him I realized that he is also a humble person, who loves his job and lives for football. Just like me. As with Pioli, I also talk a lot with Dida: we analyze all the actions, those technical details that can make the difference. He is a real point of reference for me.”

What are the main differences between the French and Italian schools of goalkeeping?
“In France we work a lot on handball technique, in Italy we also cultivate a lot of footwork. Then there are differences in details, for example on the position of the body, of the legs, in the exits, which are more aggressive on the feet of the opponents in Italy than in France.”

Ciprian Tătăruşanu, Antonio Mirante, Mike Maignan and Dida with the goalkeeping coaches celebrating winning the Scudetto at the end of Sassuolo-Milan at Mapei Stadium – Città del Tricolore on May 22, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

In what do you find yourself improved after a year at Milan?
“At Lille I was asked to play a more direct game, favoring the long throw both on crosses and to avoid the opponent’s pressing. At Milan, on the other hand, I was able to best express my skills in the short game, to restart as much as possible from the bottom. Pioli sees me almost as a libero and I like that.”

But what is your best quality?
“Technique and tactics are worked on daily, so I would say mental strength.”

It wasn’t easy coming after Donnarumma, but you are now an idol of Milan fans…
“I never felt any kind of stress about it because it was never my objective to take Gigio’s place or to make him forgotten. I came at Milan as a professional choice, to work and play my football. Then, when you work well, you reap your rewards. Of course I knew that maybe I wouldn’t be booed, but at Milan I immediately felt at home and the affection of the fans is extraordinary.”

Mike Maignan and Ismaël Bennacer celebrating the Scudetto with the team bus on May 23, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

Did the injury at the beginning of the season destabilize you?
“I was mostly frustrated. It was difficult to accept. I played 7 games with an injured hand and I didn’t want to stop or give up on my teammates. I preferred injections and creams and only trained on the eve of matches. Then when I stopped for 4 days in the national team and the pain didn’t go away, I realized that I had to take care of myself. The specialist who followed me to Milan explained to me that I would risk a one-year stop. So I had surgery, but I did everything to return as soon as possible. Staying him doing nothing was not for me; I had too many objectives. So I came back after 6 weeks instead of 10.”

Among your many decisive saves, which one do you prefer?
“I would say the one on Luperto, against Empoli at San Siro. We had been discussing that kind of save with Dida for weeks and we didn’t think the same way. But then I applied exactly what he was asking and managed to deflect it for a corner. It is a kind of synthesis of our work.”

Mike Maignan during Sassuolo-Milan at Mapei Stadium – Città del Tricolore on May 22, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

You didn’t concede a goal in 17 games, in 38 games in 2 seasons. Numbers of a Yashin Trophy, France Football’s Ballon d’Or for goalkeepers: do you consider yourself already among the Top 5?
“I only work to be the best, but it’s not for me to say if I’m among the Top 5. The Yashin Trophy is not on my mind. It’s something relative. However, if I won it, it would still be a pleasure.”

Childhood idols?
“I never had any. However, I study all the great goalkeepers well. I appreciate Neuer but in my childhood bedroom I had posters of Zidane, Ronaldinho, Gerrard, Eto’o and also Ibrahimović.”

How did Ibra, who you knew from your PSG days, greet you?
“He congratulated me for the title with Lille but he explained that in Italy it was a whole different thing and that at Milan there was more pressure. Ibrahimović is an example for everyone. He, like me, gritted his teeth to hit the target as he promised himself. I hope he will be back with us soon.”

With Giroud, Theo Hernández and Kalulu in the locker room you didn’t feel lost…
“Kalulu turned out to be really strong, also mentally, he made the most of his chance and I hope he continues like this. With Theo we are very close also in the national team. Olivier is not a surprise to anyone, and he also demolished, as promised, the curse of the #9.”

What are the differences between Ligue 1 and Serie A?
“In Italy all the teams play and attack you, there is more intensity. In Ligue 1 the small teams usually close down more.”

One negative note was the racist insults. What needs to be done?
“This has been going on for years and I will not be the last. After Cagliari I was called to give my side but nothing happened. I am lucky enough to be really supported by Milan, but in Italian and European institutions there are those who perhaps give a damn about punishing the guilty. Complaining is no longer enough. Then it will be up to us players to do something.”

Mike Maignan celebrating the Scudetto with the team bus on May 23, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

What ambitions do you have for the Champions League?
“To do better and better, learning from what we experienced this year. We haven’t won it for too many years. It’s an objective of mine to bring Milan back to the top of Europe as well, where it belongs.”

Your France is favored at the World Cup, and Italy will not be there…
“It’s a shame for you guys. I don’t believe those who talk about favorites, but we will always give everything to get the maximum.”

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments