Mid july Real Madrid and Milan were negotiating a new loan for Brahim Abdelkader Díaz (Málaga, 22 years old). The Italian club was betting big. He had already tasted the player the previous season (39 games, 15 as a starter, seven goals and four passes on goal) and, especially, they had savored his special way of understanding football in that area where individual quality, pause, acceleration and the tile dribble are priceless.
A call from Paolo Maldini, strong man of the entity rossonera, tried to put pressure on the player. “We will give you the 10 that Calhanoglu leaves free.” Without being an expert on the history of the club, Brahim knew that for Milan it was not just any number. It was the number of Liedholm, Gianni Rivera, Gullit, Rui Costa, Boban, Roberto Baggio, Seedorf … Now it is yours and you enjoy it at the same time that you have enjoyed football again. You feel important again.
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The blind confidence of Maldini and the coach, Stefano Pioli, have catapulted him to the starting position. Four targets and one goal pass in seven games. On Saturday he signed the victory against Spezia in a match in which he was going to rest to be fresh for today’s European appointment against Atlético. He had to leave in minute 82 and resolved (1-2) in 86.
With 10 in tow, from the half point, it is the lighthouse that gives light to the last pass. Behind the number 9, Giroud or Rebic, awaiting the injured Ibrahimovic, is the position that best suits their conditions on the 1-4-2-3-1 meridian drawn by the Milanese board. You have freedom of movement. He approaches his own midfielders, moves away from rival central centers, waits to give continuity to Theo’s galloping down the left wing and, preferably, he looks for the area, always looking for the area. It arrives without being. In a young and inexperienced team, but with a very marked offensive style, it feels as comfortable as it is valuable.
As in Manchester and Madrid, he always feels supported by his family. For his parents, Patricia and Sufiel, who is also his representative, and his four little sisters. In the shadow of the Duomo, in addition, he has found in Theo and Castillejo two good travel companions for the hours of rest. They form the Spanish clan of the squad and make themselves felt. As much as you feel the passion of tifosi now that he has inherited the chant that San Siro dedicated to Kaka and Weah. “We have come here to see Brahim mark.”
When asked about Real Madrid and if he continues to dream of one day succeeding at the Bernabéu, the footballer feigns with trade and acknowledges that he has found football happiness, proclaims all the greatness of his current club and its immediate goals, but prefers to remain silent on what will happen in June 2023 when his assignment ends. Brahim does not forget that he left Manchester City in a hurry and ran to triumph at Real Madrid and that goal remains on his horizon.
His three goals in Serie A and his goal at Anfield in the Champions League make him the team’s best scorer so far this season. His Milan is second in the local championship, two points behind Napoli. They have won five games and drawn one, with 12 goals for and only three against. In his debut in the Champions League, after seven seasons, he lost against Liverpool (3-2) but the team came to be ahead and stood up without giving up their attacking style.
Although Milan is shown as a compact block, without glittering individualities, there is no shortage of proper names to look at. France’s Maignan has rightly taken on the responsibility of replacing the iconic Donnarumma in goal. The veteran Danish central Kjaer, touched, is the leader of the defense; Kessie, an Ivorian all-rounder, sets the pace in the center of the field and from the left wing, ahead of the omnipresent Theo, comes the Portuguese Leao, the same age as Brahim, with whom he makes good football friends. The forward position is shared by Croatian Rebic (28 years old) and Frenchman Giroud (34). Nothing to do with each other.
Although not dressed in white, Brahim will play his particular derby against Atlético. “Of course it influences that he comes from Madrid to still have more desire to win,” he said yesterday to the press. One more sign that the club cares for him like a leader, although he still refuses to assume that role.