Before the 2014 World Cup was set to kick off, Italy had a May warm-up match v the Republic of Ireland. The Milan captain played in this match but suffered a major injury that hurt Prandelli’s outlook on the tournament in Brazil as he now had to find a replacement for one of the more experienced midfielders of the Azzurri. Montolivo fractured his left tibia, an injury that took him out of the World Cup and for nearly the entire first half of the 2014/15 Serie A season.
Despite his disappointing 2013/14 season with Milan as captain, Montolivo was still set to be a key component to any type of bounce back season the Rossoneri had in mind for this year. Once Montolivo suffered the devastating injury, we assumed Galliani and Berlusconi would seek help to fill the void this past summer. However, the players brought in for the midfield, which included van Ginkel (loan) and Bonaventura, didn’t seem to be the best to fill the central midfielder role in Inzaghi’s 4-3-3 formation. van Ginkel is a young kid who has promise but is more of a reinforcement rather than a player one would expect to start the majority of the matches. Bonaventura is more of an outside player, typically as a winger which is what he has played mostly for Milan this season. Both Muntari and Poli appeared to be the likely replacements for Montolivo with Nigel de Jong playing a deeper, defensive midfield position. So whether we agreed with him being given the captain’ armband or not, Montolivo was a key loss for Milan simple because of the club’s lack of depth.
Of course, after having surgery to repair the fractured tibia back in June, Montolivo has officially been healed and recovered which means he will begin working his way back into match fitness. The Rossoneri captain will begin getting his body prepared before he hits the training ground with the squad. With about two months left of competition before the winter break, we likely won’t see Montolivo’s return until 2015.
We are all well aware of Silvio’s apparent “tight budget” and unwillingness to spend so hopefully Riccardo can return to the form that helped him earn the honor of being crowned captain and perhaps provide a creative spark to a midfielder thirsty for energy.