Malick Thiaw has seemingly emerged out of nowhere to become one of Milan’s brightest prospects and things were almost very different before his arrival last summer.

The Rossoneri picked up the 21-year-old German centre back from Schalke 04 in August of last year in a deal worth around €6m total, a price that is now starting to look like a bargain in retrospect.

Thiaw hardly had a sniff in his first six months with Milan but has started their last four games across Serie A and the Champions League, helping them keep four clean sheets and showing his defensive talents.

TMW reflected on how Thiaw’s move to Milan came about last summer. At the end of last season, Paolo Maldini and Frederic Massara had a clear target in mind to strengthen their defence: Sven Botman.

The Dutchman looked destined to join the club and talks were in their final stages before the Saudi-backed Newcastle United emerged, paying around €37m for the 23-year-old’s signature. This forced Milan to change their strategy and they decided to use that allocated money on Charles De Ketelaere instead.

In the background, Milan still wanted a new centre back. At the end of June, when exploring alternatives, they were told by Schalke that Thiaw would cost around €10m, a price the club weren’t willing to pay.

The Rossoneri explored a number of alternatives as the summer went by, from Francesco Acerbi to Japhet Tanganga, but when it became clear that the German club would accept a lower fee for Thiaw, Milan returned with a €6m offer, enough to snap up the talented 21-year-old.

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