Marco Van Ginkel’s loan move to AC Milan seemed a much-needed change of scenery after a torrid beginning to his time at Chelsea. However, it took long for him to get going due to injuries but once he did, he began to showcase some of his talent.

  • By Chaka Simbeye
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van gink ac milA.C Milan have been encapsulated by off-field problems in what has been an immensely underwhelming season on it. In an attempt to curtail the disasters of last season, A.C Milan Director Adriano Galliani agreed a loan deal for young Dutch midfielder Marco Van Ginkel from Chelsea.  Van Ginkel who had turned down offers from the Eredivisie arrived at a Milan in need of inspiration and respite while Van Ginkel himself was in need of game time after suffering a long-term injury last season. He was heralded as A.C Milan’s ‘next Dutch star’ as he was presented as a Milan player in the Milan museum which was littered with trophies and the success linked with A.C Milan.

Van Ginkel, only made his first start towards the end of September in a match against newly promoted Serie A side Empoli in which he was stretchered off after 34 minutes. Van Ginkel’s torrid start to life outside of Holland didn’t seem to subside as Van Ginkel only found himself in the match day squad in mid-October. Milan’s performances and results began to frustrate the fans as manager Philippo Inzaghi failed to find settle on a solid starting line-up in a very mediocre Milan squad. The blame eventually found its way Van Ginkel as an exit was even touted.

“Marco began the season on the bench and it was expected as he was getting used to a new club and country,” said Van Ginkel’s agent Karel Jansen. “But even after he recovered from the injury he has had very little time on the pitch. We were not happy about it and it went against all logic.

“We made it clear that this was not intention when he joined on loan. Marco did not have to go to Italy and do nothing. Look, if he wasn’t very good, this treatment was understandable but a fit Van Ginkel would walk into the Milan side,” continued Jansen to FOX Sports. “Chelsea have not pulled the plug but they might if the current situation continues,” added Jansen.

By November, Van Ginkel was nearing full fitness in his recovery but a heavy challenge from Sulley Muntari in a training session truncated this and sent him back onto the treatment table for two months, as it did seem that Van Ginkel was on his way out of Italy.

However, he returned after the winter break and began to retain a spot in Inzaghi’s match day squads. His performances lacked the confidence to match his energy as he spent time charging around the field making unnecessary fouls and when he did have the ball, he did little with it as he played safe passes and was reluctant to make runs into the box. He seemed to focus on not wanting to make a mistake rather than make an actual impression.

In April, Inzaghi granted the Dutchman more playing time and as he played more, he grew in stature on the pitch. His tackles became cleaner and although some of his passes were wayward, he was trying to place decisive balls forward. As Inzaghi settled with Van Ginkel, in the team, one could begin to see why. He commanded possession from Dutch counterpart Nigel De Jong and instantly looked to play the ball forward and add something different to the Milan team.

He became more confident in taking on the ball looking to beat his man or make a pass and instantly make surging runs forward. Van Ginkel began to appear more in the final third, stringing passes together and always keeping himself available for a pass. As Milan’s results got worse and the atmosphere at the Giuseppe Meazza became tenser, Van Ginkel was cultivating a good back end to his season. In a recent match against Roma, a counter attack allowed Keisuke Honda to break with the ball on the right channel as the former Vitesse man hurried forward and latched on to the Japanese’s low cross before the goalkeeper and his marker to tap in his first Milan goal. In the same game, he also drifted out wide to lob a well weighted onto the head of Mattia Destro, only for the Italian to head over.

In Milan’s second last match of the season against Torino, the returning Stephan El Shaarawy found Van Ginkel on the end of the box before continuing into the box as the Dutchman found him with a sumptuous through ball for El Shaarawy to score. This was after the Dutchman burst into the box only to be brought down by Torino defender Cristian Molinaro for a penalty which Giampaolo Pazzini duly converted. According to Opta, Van Ginkel completed 95% of his 56 passes creating two chances and gaining the aforementioned assist.

Van Ginkel was playing with the composure and confidence that saw Chelsea sign him from Vitesse as he formed an integral part of Milan’s 4-3-3 formation. He handles his defensive duties ferociously winning two aerial duels a game with the same number of tackles and interceptions per game. He makes 37 passes a game to which 84% are accurate while he has added a range to his passing as he executes 3 successful long balls per game. It is also telling that 74% of his passes are forward passes as Milan can be accused of playing too many wide balls or passing backwards too frequently. He established himself as Milan’s engine and most creative midfield player as Milan have shown an interest in keeping him for next season.

“If Van Ginkel holds this level, then we’ll consider to hire him for a second season, with an option to buy,” declared A.C Milan C.E.O Adriano Galliani after Van Ginkel turned in a fine performance against Sampdoria, a month ago.

“Chelsea have great midfielders and he is in need of playing,” said Inzaghi. “My will would be possible to keep him because he can give us a big hand,” adds the current Milan manager.

“I do not know yet, but I will return to Chelsea then we’ll see,” said Van Ginkel to ForzaItalianFootball.

Van Ginkel hasn’t had the most productive season but has made the necessary steps to kick-start his career after his long-term injury. It seems highly unlikely that he will be staying at Chelsea next season and another loan deal is on his horizon, one can only hope that he finds regular football at a stable club to continue his development.

Chaka Simbeye (69 Posts)