Milan’s Mike Maignan has finished at the 25th spot in the Ballon d’Or rankings, thereby establishing himself as one of the best goalkeepers on the planet right now. And there can be no argument against the fact that he deserves his spot in the top 25 of the rankings.
Milan were in a bit of a spot of bother when Gianluigi Donnarumma had left the club for free, enraging a host of Il Diavolo fans in the process. But just like always – Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara had an ace up their sleeve and they executed the process quickly, bringing in Maignan from Lille. It isn’t the only deal they’ve thrashed out with the French outfit, with relations between them already said to be subject of controversy.
With Stefano Pioli’s system evolving into a more high-pressing approach that saw the Rossoneri keep more possession of the ball, they needed a goalkeeper who was multi-faceted and did a variety of tasks on and off the ball. That isn’t something Donnarumma was always good at and it shows sometimes, in his games for Paris Saint-Germain and Gli Azzurri.
But Maignan has been one of Milan’s standout performers since the previous season, showcasing that he isn’t just a very reliable shot-stopper but also a remarkable sweeper keeper who allows the Rossoneri to play higher up the pitch.
Milan’s title win was littered with close wins in which they had to score winners in the second half to seal all three points, especially towards the end of the campaign. In a season like that, having a keeper who keeps one in games is a top priority. Maignan overperformed on his post-shot xG metric by 8, which was the highest in the league and the fact that he overperformed on it by 4.8 in his last season at Lille shows that it wasn’t a one-off.
For a Milan side that had to win tight games, saving eight goals more than what was expected is truly remarkable, especially considering the amount of injuries that Milan’s backline had last season and their reliance on Fikayo Tomori and Pierre Kalulu.
Maignan is a constant in coming off his line during build-up and helping his side have an extra man while playing out from the back and that is an attribute that Inter now have with summer signing Andre Onana. That isn’t something one could always say for Donnarumma, who was perhaps an equally good shot-stopper during his stint at the San Siro and it shows how Maignan has helped Milan evolve.
It is also key to note that Maignan is still 27 and that is quite young, especially for goalkeepers. Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris is still going strong but his performances are dipping at 35. But with Maignan, France do not need to worry.