Now that the swap deal between AC Milan and Juventus involving Leonardo Bonucci, Gonzalo Higuain and Mattia Caldara is official, it is a good time to consider what exactly Rino Gattuso’s new recruits bring to the side.
For Mattia Caldara, the 24-year-old Italian defender, he comes in and directly fills the spot left open with the departure of Bonucci. Caldara will sit alongside Alessio Romagnoli in the center of Milan’s defense in front of Gigio Donnarumma.
What Caldara brings, however, is more than just a starting center-back. He is proven in Italy, having spent the last two years at Atalanta as the anchor of the defense. He earned his starting spot in the 2016-2017 season, after which he was signed by Juventus for €15 million and loaned back to Atalanta. Upon returning to Juve this summer, expectations were that he would be in contention for a starting role alongside Giorgio Chiellini, competing with Medhi Benatia. That, however, was before Juventus went into full “win-now“ mode and signed Cristiano Ronaldo.
With Juventus putting all their eggs into the basket of the next few years with Ronaldo, the move of getting Bonucci back in black and white makes sense. They get a player who has proven that he is one of the best in the world in that system, and for a pay cut. Meanwhile, Milan make out with an excellent haul for a player who had an inconsistent season, landing a proven striker and one of the most talented young defenders in the country.
There is a reason that Caldara was signed by Juventus- they envisioned that he and Daniele Rugani would be the heirs to Chiellini and Bonucci. Rugani has not exactly lived up to that, but Caldara was expected to be the future of that position, as well as with the Italian National Team. With the Azzurri, Caldara is seen as the long-term partner to none other than Alessio Romagnoli, having made his senior debut this summer under Roberto Mancini.
Caldara brings a new face to Milan’s defense, but also brings proven quality and an exciting young player. He will play next to Romagnoli for what could be the next decade, in both red and black and National Team blue. Milan swapped a more than solid defender in Bonucci for a consistent goal-scorer and a defender who will only get better, and one who Juventus fans were more than excited about joining their team.
Mattia Caldara is the player that makes the Bonucci swap deal a win for Milan. Barring a complete pitfall in form or injury, Milan now has the most promising defensive wall that they have had in years. Next to Romagnoli, Caldara will only grow and may become one of the best defenders in the league, and sets up a defense that also includes Andrea Conti, Davide Calabria, and Donnarumma. Caldara is the signal that Milan’s future may be brighter than we could have expected.