Milan have seemingly had significant bad luck when it comes to injuries in recent times with a number of players suffering with long-term blows.
Giacomo Bonaventura and Andrea Conti have had their fair share of spells on the sidelines, while Mattia Caldara has been limited to just two appearances for the Rossoneri since joining us in August 2018.
From his Achilles tendon rupture in October that year to sustaining an ACL injury in April, it has been a brutally unfortunate 12 months or so for the former Atalanta defender, and it’s certainly hoped that the worst is now behind him.
As noted by Il Milanista, his agent, Giuseppe Riso, has insisted that Caldara is now ready to be at coach Stefano Pioli’s disposal, and so it remains to be seen when the Milan boss is entirely convinced that he’s ready to be thrown back into the mix.
Stay fit and healthy is the immediate priority
First and foremost, the 25-year-old must show that he is fully recovered from his injury setbacks and must work on his injury resistance moving forward to avoid any further blows.
While he can only do so much in training to work on his fitness and be as prepared as possible, given how long he has spent on the sidelines, Caldara needs regular playing time to get his sharpness back and to start feeling comfortable on the pitch with no mental reservations after his injury nightmare.
In turn, Pioli will need to be smart. It would surely be a major risk to bring him back into the fold against Napoli this weekend, but encounters with Parma, Bologna and Sassuolo follow that and it could be argued that is an ideal run of games to perhaps start to at least integrating Caldara back into the senior side.
Spot next to Romagnoli still up for grabs
Fortunately for the Italian international, there is still an opening in the starting XI that will provide him with an opportunity to secure his place in the line-up again.
As club captain and the most reliable figure at the back in recent years, Alessio Romagnoli is a pillar of this team and there is no doubt at all over his place in the XI. In turn, it’s effectively a battle for the spot next to him with Leo Duarte and Mateo Musacchio offering competition.
While Musacchio is currently out injured himself, question marks could arguably be raised over his lapses in concentration and tendency to make costly mistakes against top class centre-forwards. Coupled with Duarte still adapting and adjusting to Italian football, there is still a void in the heart of the defence that Caldara has a chance to fill.
Much was made of the potential partnership that he could form with Romagnoli for club and country for years to come when he joined Milan, and that is still a possibility if the pair can firstly establish themselves at Milan.
The defensive duo seemingly compliment each other well in terms of technical quality on the ball coupled with sound defensive attributes such as reading of the game, tackling and aerial prowess, and so the ingredients are certainly there for them to become a permanent fixture in this Milan side.
Caldara will be under immediate pressure though as when that opportunity to impress comes from Pioli, he has to step up and deliver otherwise he could be waiting a long time for the next chance to present itself especially with a healthy Musacchio back in the picture.
Ideally, he’ll go on to now showcase why Milan wanted him and why he’s capable of being a pivotal figure for us. Nevertheless, those are two serious injuries that he has had to come back from, and while that will undoubtedly have helped him build a solid mentality and grow physically stronger to find a path back, Caldara will need to tick plenty of boxes before he can convince all concerned that he’s still got what is necessary to shine at the top level.
Given the excitement generated over his potential in Bergamo though coupled with our ongoing need for a stable and reliable partner for Romagnoli, it’s hoped that he can still emerge as a crucial option for Milan moving forward.