Maignan stands in the way of his former club Saint-Germain

Paris (AFP) – The goalkeeper of the French national team and the Italian club Milan, Mike Maignan, stands in the way of his former team, Paris Saint-Germain, when the two teams meet on Wednesday in the third round of the group stage of the European Champions League football competition.

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The Parisian club, seeking its first title in the prestigious continental competition, finds itself facing one of the many most prominent talents who have abandoned his services in recent years.

Maignan joined Paris Saint-Germain at the age of fourteen, specifically in 2009, but the capital team abandoned his services in 2015 in favor of Lille, and with the latter he won the French League title in 2021. Then he did it with Milan one year later and became the first goalkeeper for the French national team.

Meanwhile, PSG handed the gloves to a long list of goalkeepers before signing Italian Gianluigi Donnarumma from Milan in 2021 and making him the undisputed first-choice goalkeeper a year later.

But wouldn’t it have been better for the club, which is owned by Qatar, to maintain its confidence in the young Maignan instead of signing the Italian Salvatore Sirigu, the German Kevin Trapp, the other Italian Gianluigi Buffon, Alphonse Areola, the Costa Rican Keylor Navas, and then Donnarumma in his ongoing quest to win the Champions League?

Maignane, 28 years old, has become one of the distinguished goalkeepers in the world and will be the last rock in Milan’s defense against his teammates in the France national team Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Randall Kolo-Mwani in a decisive match in Group F, knowing that they will meet in the fourth round after two weeks in Milan.

After keeping a clean sheet in draws with Newcastle United of England and Borussia Dortmund of Germany in the first and second rounds, Minyan is scheduled to return to Milan’s guard after his absence due to suspension for the 0-1 loss to Juventus at San Siro Stadium in the Italian League on Sunday.

“It’s always a strange feeling coming home, whether it’s to Lille or Paris,” Maignan said while with the French national team last week during the international window.

Maignan missed last year’s World Cup finals in Qatar due to injury, but he became coach Didier Deschamps’ first choice since the retirement of Hugo Lloris.

He added, “Returning home brings back memories. I previously played against Paris Saint-Germain when I was defending the colors of Lille. But tomorrow it is about the Champions League competition. There will be a great atmosphere. My family will be there. I need to make sure that I will focus on my work and not leave.” “Emotions overwhelm me.”

– ‘Virtually expelled’ –

There has been a lot of focus in recent months on Saint-Germain’s failure to win the Champions League title, despite its Qatari owners adopting a policy of spending huge sums of money on signing stars.

Milan’s Italian-French international goalkeeper Mike Maignan during the match against Germany’s Borussia Dortmund in the second round of the group stage of the Champions League in Dortmund on October 4, 2023. © Inna Fassbender/AFP/Archive

Meanwhile, the club’s owners have neglected the young talent on their doorstep in the fertile football ground of Paris.

A major effort was made to change the approach with the departure of Argentine Lionel Messi and Brazilian Neymar by including exciting French talents such as Dembélé, born in Normandy, and Kolo Mwani, born in the same suburb where the star Mbappé saw the light.

The matter in the Parisian club was not limited to the departure of Maignane only during the past decade, as Kingsley Coman, Adrien Rabiot, Christopher Nkunku, and Moussa Diaby chose to continue their football careers with other clubs.

In addition to Maignane, Milan’s potential line-up against Paris Saint-Germain could include 23-year-old Algerian-born playmaker Yacine Adli, born in the suburbs of Paris, who left his hometown team after just one first-team appearance in the 2018-19 season.

Adly, who started his football career with Paris Saint-Germain in 2013, moved to Bordeaux in the summer of 2019 before moving in the summer of 2021 to Milan, which kept him with his French club on loan for the 2021-2022 season.

Paris Saint-Germain has won four Champions League knockout rounds since Maignane’s departure eight years ago.

“It doesn’t mean anything to me,” Maignan said last season in an interview when he was asked about his opinion on Paris Saint-Germain’s exit from the competition at the hands of German club Bayern Munich.

Saint-Germain realizes that failing to win against the Rossoneri on Wednesday after losing to Newcastle 1-4 three weeks ago will weaken the chances of Spanish coach Luis Enrique’s team in skipping the group stage, which will be disastrous for the ambitions of the capital team.

Saint-Germain’s deals in recent years have sparked great controversy, such as allowing one player, such as Maignan, at the age of twenty, to join Lille for one million euros ($1.1 million) in 2015, without playing a single match with the first team.

Born in French Guiana in South America, Mignan was eight years old when he moved to French territory with his family. He joined the Paris Saint-Germain academy in 2009.

Former Paris Saint-Germain and France goalkeeper Bernard Lama, the 1998 World Cup champion, told sports newspaper L’Equipe earlier this year, “Paris Saint-Germain practically expelled him, as they did with other (players). We wonder, where is the club’s policy?”

He added, “They should have loaned him to Lille, and done like Bayern did with Alexander Nubel (when they loaned him to Monaco) and then see what happens. If he shines, we will get his services again instead of buying another goalkeeper and that would be wrong.”

He continued, “In Milan, he contributed to improving his results. Give me a better goalkeeper than him? In Milan, he is decisive on a regular basis. You only have to look at the number of goals you have conceded. He is a safety valve.”

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