Daniel Maldini: ‘If I returned to Milan, it would be to play, not sit on the bench’


Milan youngster Daniel Maldini spoke about his hopes to eventually return to the Rossoneri, but only if he gets playing time. The 22-year-old is enjoying a solid season with Monza, having scored three goals in seven appearances, and is expected to return to his parent club in the summer. Speaking with La Gazzetta dello Sport, Maldini talked about his experiences with the newly promoted side, the influence of his father and his all-time XI:

After the goal two weeks ago against Cagliari, you said: “It’s my best moment.” Being a bit harsh, one could argue that it doesn’t take much, given how few games you’ve played so far in top-flight football… (laughs)

“Yeah, that’s right… So, indeed, this is my best moment, which comes after less good periods.”

And have you given yourself an explanation for the less good periods?

“They were largely due to my physical problems. My mental state, on the other hand, has always been the same: good. Even at Empoli, where I played much less than at Monza, once I returned from injury, I felt confident. But it’s clear that confidence increases when you play.”

Also, after the goal scored against Cagliari: “Palladino makes me feel calm and happy.” How does he manage that?

“The coach talks to me, and that alone gives me peace. And then confidence: as I was saying, I have felt it inside me in the past too, but it was up and down. At Monza, it’s the first time that it comes from the outside, and from the moment I arrived, thanks to Palladino and Adriano Galliani. All this boosts my self-esteem. I feel different, more involved, and therefore more aware of my abilities.”

What does Palladino ask of you?

“To replicate in matches what he sees me do during training.”

And what does he see you do in training?

“What I know how to do.”

Let’s try again: among the things you know how to do, what gives you the most satisfaction?

“The nutmeg. Or imitating a goal I’ve seen on TV, and the night before the match, I think about how much I’d like to do it the same. Assisting also gives me satisfaction: it’s beautiful. Scoring a goal is something different, you feel a jolt inside, a rush of adrenaline.”

Two years ago, in your first interview with Sportweek, we talked about how quickly you would light up and then fade away during the same game. Have you found more continuity since then?

“Finding it is my short-term goal. I don’t know why those breaks happen, I work to reduce them as much as possible, staying focused for the entire time I’m on the field.”

Is it a concentration problem?

“It’s not a concentration issue. If I knew what it was, I would have already solved the problem. I know that on the field, I have to stay alert to everything that happens around me.”

It is known that players with all genius and recklessness do not have consistency as a strong point. Do you feel you belong to that category?

“I don’t know if I belong there, but I’m okay with being associated with it.”

What is genius about you? (laughs)

“I don’t know, you have to ask others.”

And reckless?

“That too, you have to ask others. No, come on, I don’t think I’m reckless.”

Monza is practically home for you, being from Milan: could this aspect have influenced your positive performance?

“Living away, in La Spezia and Empoli, helped me as a person and a player. When you’re alone, responsibilities increase, you no longer have anyone to take care of you, so inevitably, you grow. I learned to cook – well, let’s say practically just pasta – and to clean. Then, of course, being at home is always nice. For two more months, I’ll still live with my parents, then I’ll live on my own.”

Luigi Garlando, from La Gazzetta dello Sport, compliments you in Sportweek for the lightness with which you carry the Maldini surname, the result, he says, of a family upbringing where the “elders” limit themselves to a discreet presence with their children.

“We are a normal family. I see my dad after games: he asks me a few questions, gives me some advice, but with him, I talk about everything, like any father with his son.”

You said about yourself: I’m shy, reserved, and calm, but in dealing with others, I show personality.

“Did I really say I have personality? Strange… I think I’m a good and polite guy, for the rest, my attitude also depends on who I’m dealing with.”

And does having many eyes on you when you play make you anxious, put pressure on you?

“No… Surely, more is expected from me, given my technical qualities and because of my name, but I’m used to it, and by now, it doesn’t change much for me. I’ve learned to live with it. It was like this, and it will always be like this. Besides, this is the most delicate moment of my career: if I don’t feel the weight of certain pressures now, I imagine I’ll be even calmer in the future. Then, a bit of anxiety before the game is good: it gives you that thrill, that desire to be decisive on the field.

Do you think shyness and reserve have hindered your career?

“Not hindered, maybe they made the path slower and bumpier.”

Returning to Milan is an option and a desire, or would it be better to cut the umbilical cord with the mother club?

“It’s always an option and a desire, but Monza is giving me a lot. If I were to return to Milan, it would be with the goal of playing, certainly not sitting on the bench.”

Have you heard from Ibra? Who are you still in contact with?

“No, I haven’t heard from Ibra. I talk to and sometimes see Leao, Giroud, Calabria, Florenzi…”

On a scale of one to a hundred, how much do you still enjoy playing, and how much has this become a job?

“I always enjoy a hundred.”

Do you have an idea of your potential, of how vast it could be?

“I don’t know. First of all, I hope I have potential.”

So far, in professional football, you have almost always started from the bench: in the long run, can it be an advantage, taking away responsibility?

“I think every player wants to start from the beginning. Sometimes it’s easier to come on as a substitute, but I would like to play always.”

You’re not very active on social media, and you only post football-related images.

“True: I prefer to keep my things to myself.”

Are you someone who gets bored?

“Never. Even if I stay at home, I’m fine.”

Attacking midfielder or left winger?

“I prefer to play as an attacking midfielder, but maybe at this moment, the role of left winger is better for me.”

The strongest players in that role?

“Leao, Vinicius, Mbappé.”

What would you steal from Leao?

“His stride. Impressive.”

From Vinicius?

“The speed.”

From Mbappé?

“The shot.”

What do you feel you need to improve?

“Always the same: continuity.”

Your best move?

“The shot.”

What do you like to do when you’re not playing, what do you enjoy the most?

“Hanging out with friends. We go to dinner at a restaurant, or to one of our houses, or just for a walk. That’s enough for me


Serie A obsessive.