Appointed club captain and now into his fifth season at Milan, Alessio Romagnoli continues to grow and mature into a leading figure in the side and a reliable presence at the back.
The 25-year-old joined us in 2015 and barring an injury-hit 2016/17 campaign, he has made 40 or more appearances in each season since he arrived and is on course to do the same this year.
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With increasing responsibility at the club though, has he continued to develop and improve his all-round game to warrant that position? The answer to that question is quite emphatically, yes. Admittedly, he does still have weaknesses which will be hard to address entirely, but he’s continuing to establish himself as a fundamental figure in the side.
Maturing captain, reliable presence
Quite remarkably, Romagnoli hasn’t missed a single minute so far this season. An ever-present in Serie A with 26 appearances and having featured in all three Coppa Italia games thus far, including extra-time against Torino, he has been a dependable and permanent fixture in the heart of our backline.
Considering the niggles and setbacks that he has suffered in the past, that shows a maturity in itself that he’s taking better care of himself and has developed physically to now be one of the first names on the team sheet week in and week out.
Meanwhile, another area in which he has improved in terms of maturity is his discipline. Romagnoli has been booked four times so far this season, largely due to the fact that he is cautioned if he even breathes on a referee when contesting a decision, while he was booked 10 times last year with one red card.
The season before that was the same, and so that points to an improved temperament, awareness, concentration and execution in making key tackles and not being caught out at the back to be forced into a situation where he has to perhaps take the caution for the sake of the team.
Romagnoli isn’t what may be regarded as a stereotypical leader, and he likely never will be. A centre-half seen barking orders at his teammates or getting into their faces for mistakes. Perhaps that’s something we lack. However, he still leads with his quality and if he sets the standard both on and off the pitch, it’s down to those around him to match that.
Composed, improving defensively
As ever, he continues to provide a calming and composed presence in defence in terms of his distribution and building out from the back, and that elegance and accuracy has been a trait since he joined us.
Romagnoli will never be the quickest centre-half nor will he be the most physical, but he has improved in the latter department this season as he hasn’t been bullied by opposing strikers in one-on-ones or in the air for the most part, although perhaps Romelu Lukaku is an obvious example of when he still struggles.
Nevertheless, the timing of his tackles, his positional awareness to constantly clear crosses out the box and his reading of the game to be a step ahead given he knows he won’t be able to keep up with certain forwards, shows that his understanding is continuously getting better and that is vital for us and for the longevity of his career.
His current contract expires in 2022, and while that gives Milan time to negotiate a renewal, it’s hoped that one is agreed upon sooner rather than later. Romagnoli deserves a bigger stage to showcase his quality, namely through us qualifying for the Champions League.
That could ultimately be the defining factor in whether or not he stays with us for the long-term future, but as seen in the video below and as detailed above, our defender, captain and leader remains a pivotal part of our push to get back to the top and at 25, he’s still got plenty of room for improvement and time to establish himself as a key figure in the history of our club.
Alessio Romagnoli: defender, captain, leader! 👏🏼@BancoBPMSpa #SempreMilan pic.twitter.com/tp4DrQkbQC
— AC Milan (@acmilan) April 26, 2020