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A Right Footed LB

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We had a righty play LB once...

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Claudio Villa - Getty Images

Much has been made about the emergence of Mattia De Sciglio this season. It is often nice to have a youth player emerge as sort of a silver lining in an otherwise difficult season. In the year of L3-0 it was Abate that began to shine at RB, now we have a new RB, but the question becomes how does he get deployed?

Much has been made of Milan's lack of left footed players and in turn lack of a true Left Back, what is often glossed over in these discussions is the fact that Milan, and possibly the game's greatest Left Back, was Right Footed. His name was Paolo Maldini! Now piling on such a comparison is mostly absurd and not for me, but to see fans get worked about this issue is funny because they seem to miss this little issue, now it is important to say that while Paolo was born using his right footed, he had the incredible ability to use either foot naturally, a trait that takes more than just practice. While Mattia certainly continue to grow towards ambidexterity, he has a long way to go to reach Maldini like talents.

That however, isn't to say he can't make a good LB. Being left footed is not a pre-requisite to be playing LB and those who have played the game understand the positives and negatives to being deployed on different flanks. Coaches tend to understand this as well and will often deploy attack minded players on the opposite flank to assure a better shooting angle in lieu of crossing. It all boils down to deployment and what the function of the team's LB is going to be. Some teams use the LB exclusively to attack and cross, others use the role in a more inside channel, while some teams prefer to attack from the right side. It all comes down to tactics, and Milan have the pleasure for the first time in what seems like ten years to have a good full back pairing allowing for some tactical freedom in those roles.

Abate is in fact MIlan's starting RB, and he has earned that role, not to mention the role for Italy as well. I don' t think you bench him, and I don't think you sell him either. As I said above, we may be looking at the future of fullbacks for AC Milan here, why rock the boat? Why not allow De Sciglio to grow into the LB role like Abate did, especially if this season does not amount to anything the table, why not groom both for their future roles? Let De Sciglio have some growing pains, LB is not an easy position and it will take some time but time well worth it, and time well rewarded. Imagine three years from now a defense of Abate, Astori, Acerbi, and De Sciglio! A restoration of Milan to the heights of defense glory that have not been seen since the retirements of greats like Baresi, Costacurta and Maldini.

The go forward plan as I see it is painfully simple, De Sciglio is the starting LB. Every game, as long as he is able Let him make mistakes, let him learn and let him gain experience. One day we will look back on this season the same way my father looks at the 85-86 season, Maldini's debut season. It was a wash, MIlan were in 7th 24 points off the lead, but Maldini came into his own, and by 1987 things were back to normal and Milan were winning. Have patience, not just with De Sciglio, but with the team. No team wins every year, and every team has its cycle, don't believe me? Then I can't help you but we will have plenty more to discuss during this International Break...