Botman has San Siro in his destiny: the giant who grew up in Ajax is ready for Italy

From the beginnings in Amsterdam to the boom with the Lille: “Winning in Milan was fantastic, you live for nights like this”

At San Siro, Sven Botman recalls the immediate effects, “in the locker room happiness for what we had just done was painted on everyone’s face”. And the collateral ones: “There was a fantastic atmosphere on the plane from Milan to Lille, it is to experience moments like these that we play as footballers.” The Milan shirt was on the opponents, and the feat that remained in the heart of the Dutch giant is the 3-0 at the Devil’s home in November 2020, in the Europa League groups. A detail that can be corrected soon, very soon, if Sven’s desire for Milan accelerates a negotiation that has been going on since last winter. What matters is that the boy has clear ideas: he said those words about the magic of winning at San Siro to France Football a few days after winning Ligue 1 2021 with Lille, because it’s okay to become French champion, but do you want to impose yourself in Ibra’s Milan lair?


Zlatan and Sven, rivals for one night with the Dutch winner (as happened against other mammasantissima of the attack, see Mbappé), have the height (1.95 both) and the past at Ajax in common. But the roads divide here, because Ibra started his climb from Amsterdam, while Botman had to move elsewhere to find his way. Tonnage, sense of position and anticipation, an old-fashioned central unit, perhaps not very compatible with the Ajax school: in those parts, the hierarchies are rewritten (also) with dribbling and speed. The stuff was not discussed even in the days of youth, but Botman would have to wait for his moment. The year on loan at Heerenveen, in 2019-20, helped him understand that the take-off could come immediately: “With a tackle I enchanted the audience and Jansen, the coach, told me ‘This is what I want!’ “. And that’s what made Botman great in France in the last two seasons, and in particular in that of the title won in the first year with Lille: Sven and the wise José Fonte closing every corridor and a certain Mike Maignan closing the door. A Dutchman in love with clean sheets and physical duels, this is Botman, who for this reason would look forward to his adventure in Serie A with great confidence: our football and our way of defending seem tailor-made for him.

Sven and Fik

As well as the partner who would join him at Milan: over the years Botman has greatly refined the ‘fundamentals’ from Ajax school, that is, vision of the game and a certain taste for setting, but on the pitch he has never been a splinter and speed remains one of its flaws. With an explosive center-back like Tomori, however, the mix would be perfect, and Pioli would double his defense options in one fell swoop: two top-flight center-backs like Botman and Kjaer, and two super-fast attackers like Tomori and Kalulu.

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