Padraig Whelan Date: 25th July 2012 at 6:08pm
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The massive hole left in the Milan defence after the departure of Thiago Silva this summer is a big one to fill.

It is perhaps equally as important, if not more so, who the Rossoneri choose to replace the Brazilian rather than his fellow teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

This when you factor in that not only did Silva leave but so too did Alessandro Nesta meaning that Milan’s number one central defensive partnership is and Daniele Bonera.

Something that will surely send the spines of the Diavolo following shuddering in anxiety and apprehension at what could come this season if Silva is not properly replaced.

One of the main names being touted to replace Silva at the heart of the defence is a player currently plying his trade in Ligue 1 in Montpellier’s Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.

It seems that the player is Milan’s main priority in this transfer market and that they are set to table a bid of €6.5m to tempt the player to the peninsula.

Although the reigning Ligue 1 champions stating that they would take no less than €20m before the figure of €42m was circulating regarding how much it would take to bring him to San Siro.

However, it looks likely that Milan will be able to sign the player this week, and at a cut price at that, which will represent a fantastic piece of business.

Definitely a future star of the French international team, for those unfamiliar with the player, last season alone should speak for itself.

Not only did he play a major part in the team’s unlikely triumph last season, at the age of just 23 years old, he was handed the captain’s armband by Rene Girard and playing with a confidence and maturity that exceeded his age, was a star for Montpellier.

Although goalscoring sensation Olivier Giroud got many of the plaudits for being the man supplying the goals that won them the title, it was the brilliance of Yanga-Mbiwa at the back that played as important a role.

This was none the more evident than the stat which shows that he and his defensive teammates were the meanest defence in the division last season having conceded just 34 times over the course of the entire campaign.

A player blessed with explosive power and pace for a central defender, this could represent a much-needed boost to a Milan backline that has lacked a great deal of speed over short distances outwith Ignazio Abate recently.

He is a more than able replacement for Silva and although he is perhaps not the marquee name signing that Milan fans would have hoped for, but then neither was the Brazilian when he joined as a 24-year-old from Fluminese.

While it seems the likeliest outcome that it will be Yanga-Mbiwa who will be Milan’s new signing at the heart of the defence there are other candidates and the club should sign another this summer which is evident on inspection of their current squad.

Torino’s Angelo Ogbonna has been linked with a move to Milan this summer and his class has been evident for many years now.

So assured and calm a player that he is that he would likely not look out of place in the middle of the park as well as the middle of the defence and he is going to be a future star of the Italian game.

It highlights how special a talent that Ogbonna is that he also received a place in Cesare Prandelli’s Azzurri squad for this summer’s European Championships although he was playing in Serie B.

He may not have been truly tested at the highest level yet but he seems such an assured player that he should adapt easily although it may take a higher fee to bring him in as he signed a new four year contract earlier this year.

Davide Astori of Cagliari has also signed a new deal with his club and the Rossoblu have issued a hands-off warning to suitors such as Milan but their head could be turned by the right offer.

He played with the Rossoneri as a youngster but failed to make the breakthrough and moved to Sardinia in 2008 where he became a star.

Astori is always an aerial threat from free kicks and corners at both ends and is an uncompromising presence in the air as well as on the ground where his interceptions are key.

The 25-year-old’s performances have also been noted at international level and he was handed his first, and so far only, cap last year against although the occasion was soured somewhat as he received a red card.

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