Lucas Biglia

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Lucas Biglia
Lucas Biglia.jpg
Biglia playing for Argentina at the 2018 World Cup
Personal information
Full name Lucas Rodrigo Biglia[1]
Date of birth (1986-01-30) 30 January 1986 (age 32)[2][3]
Place of birth Mercedes, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)[1]
Playing position Defensive midfielder
Club information
Current team
Milan
Number 21
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2004–2005 Argentinos Juniors 17 (1)
2005–2006 Independiente 49 (0)
2006–2013 Anderlecht 221 (12)
2013–2017 Lazio 109 (13)
2017– Milan 28 (1)
National team
2003 Argentina U17 3 (1)
2005 Argentina U20 8 (1)
2011–2018 Argentina 58 (1)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 13 May 2018

Lucas Rodrigo Biglia (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈlukaz roˈðɾiɣo ˈβiɣlja];[a] born 30 January 1986)[4] is an Argentine professional footballer who plays for Italian club Milan as a midfielder.

Formerly of Argentinos Juniors and Independiente, he spent seven seasons with Anderlecht, where he made 312 appearances in the Belgian Pro League, winning four league titles. He later spent four seasons with Italian side Lazio, before joining Milan in 2017.

Biglia's first senior international call-up for Argentina was in 2011 and he previously played for the Argentina U20 national team, who won the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship.[5] He represented his nation at two FIFA World Cups, reaching the final of the 2014 edition of the tournament, and in three Copa América tournaments, winning runners-up medals in the 2015 and 2016 editions of the tournament. He retired from international football after the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with 58 caps and one goal.

Club career[edit]

Career in Argentina[edit]

Biglia started his career at Argentinos Juniors and signed his first professional contract in 2004.[6] After scoring against Godoy Cruz on 21 June 2004 in two appearances,[7] he made his Argentinos Juniors debut on 1 July 2004, making his first start, in a 2–1 win over Talleres in play-offs.[8] Eventually, Argentinos Juniors wins 4–2 in the play-offs and is promoted to Argentine First Division. The following season saw Biglia making fifteen appearance and scoring once against Huracán on 28 November 2004.[9] However, a lack of first team appearances led to Biglia leaving the club after only 17 appearances and one goal scored during his time there.

In February 2005, he moved to Independiente for an undisclosed fee following his performance at the South American U-20 Championship.[10][11] Biglia made his Independiente debut on 26 February 2005, in a 1–0 loss against Lanús.[12] In the first half of his season there, he made eleven appearances before becoming a first team player the following season, where he played in every game.

Anderlecht[edit]

In July 2006, after one and a half-seasons at Independiente, Biglia signed with Belgian Pro League club Anderlecht on a four-year contract[13] and upon joining the club, he took up the number five shirt.[14][15] Soon after, he was joined by his compatriot teammate Nicolás Pareja, Nicolás Frutos and Cristian Leiva.[16]

In the 2006–07 season, Biglia made his debut against K. Sint-Truidense on the opening game of the season, coming on for an injured Mark De Man, in a 4–2 win.[17] Bigila had a difficult start at Anderlecht, having been left out of the Belgian Supercup squad, which Anderlecht won for the second time in a row. Teammate Yves Vanderhaeghe felt sympathy for him and helped him to settle in Belgium and only speak Spanish there.[18] A month later, he made his Champions League debut, as Anderlecht drew 1–1 against Lille in the Group Stage.[19] As the season progressed, Biglia established himself in the starting eleven at Anderlecht in a midfield position.[20] With his impressive performance at the club, he was awarded the Young Professional Footballer of the Year in January 2007.[21][22] He then scored his first goal for the club, which came from a penalty kick, as well as, assisting two times during the game, in a 6–0 victory against Brussels to win the league this season.[23] He went on to finish the season, making forty-six appearances and scoring once in all competitions.

In the 2007–08 season, Bigila started the season well when he helped the side win the Belgian Super Cup against Club Brugge.[24] and then setting up a goal for Marcin Wasilewski to score the only goal in the game against KV Mechelen 1–0 in the opening game of the season.[25] After the club was eliminated in the UEFA Champions League, Bigila was considering his future at the club, but stayed on.[26] Eventually, on 15 December 2007, Biglia signed a contract that kept him at the club until 2012.[27] After sidelined from injury and suspension,[28][29] he scored on his return from suspension, in a 5–0 win over Roeselare on 16 March 2008.[30] Although he made fifty appearance and scoring once in the 2007–2008 season, the club finished second place after losing to Standard Liège for the league title, but nevertheless won the Belgium Cup.[31]

Ahead of the 2008–09 season, Biglia expressed desire to leave the club after they won the league, but stayed at the club throughout the summer transfer window[31] and then scored his first European goal in a 2–2 draw against BATE Borisov during the Champions League Qualification.[32] Despite suffering minor injuries,[33][34] Biglia continued to be the first team regular and scored two more goals, which were against Westerlo[35] and Roeselare.[36] In the January transfer window, he was linked with European clubs such as Barcelona, Inter Milan, Valencia, Fenerbahce, Galatasaray and Birmingham City.[37][38][39] However, he remained at Anderlecht, insisting the club wanted him to stay. Despite failing to win back the league title in the 2008–09 season, Biglia went on to make thirty-five appearance and scoring three times in all competitions.

Ahead of the 2009–10 season, Biglia announced his desire to leave the club in the summer.[40] Despite this, Biglia continued to make a good start at the club when he set up two goals in two matches between 8 August 2009 and 15 August 2009 against Cercle Brugge[41] and Westerlo.[42] Biglia then scored his first Anderlecht goal of the season, in the last-16 of Belgium Cup, in a 3–0 win over FCV Dender EH.[43] On 17 October 2009, after scoring against Charleroi, Biglia stated that his goal was the greatest goal in his Anderlecht career.[44][45] Biglia suffered a potentially serious injury to his ligament[46] but managed to recover after it was found to be not as serious as first thought. Bigila then scored two more goals in the UEFA Europa League campaign against Athletic Bilbao[47] and Hamburg.[48] Despite elimination from the Europa League, the club would win the league title in the 2009–10 season, in which he dedicated the league title to his late father.[49] Biglia went on to make forty-eight appearance and scoring four times in all competitions.

In the 2010–11 season, Biglia started the season well when he set up a goal for Cheikhou Kouyaté to score the winning goal, in a 1–0 win over Gent in the Belgian Super Cup.[50] However, in a 4–1 win over Eupen in the opening game of the season, Biglia suffered a shoulder injury during the match and was sidelined for weeks.[51] Following Deschacht's injury, he was captaincy for the time being until his recovery, only to be injured himself and was sidelined for weeks[52][53] He further suffered a hamstring injury that kept him out for the rest of the year.[54] In the January transfer window, Turkish Galatasaray renewed their interest in him and made a bid of 4.5 million euros.[55] The move never materialised due to a lack of funding.[56] Prior to the interests, Biglia stated he won't leave the club in the January.[57] Although he was injured again for the fourth time in the 2010–11 season, Biglia went on to make thirty-five appearances in all competitions.[58]

In 2011–12 season, Biglia signed a new contract that would have kept him at the club until 2015.[59] After the Copa América Biglia said he wanted to leave Anderlecht to seek new challenges in the higher league.[60] Despite this, Biglia stayed at the club throughout summer and was appointed vice-captain by new manager Ariël Jacobs, with Olivier Deschacht continuing to remain as captain.[61] He then scored his first goal of the season, in a 2–2 draw against Monss on 21 August 2011[62] and a month later, he captained his first Anderlecht match on 15 September 2011, in a 4–1 win over AEK Athens.[63] He then went on assisting spree when he assisted five times in four league appearance between 25 September 2011 and 23 October 2011, including twice against Beerschot and Westerlo.[64][65] Biglia was later given captaincy after Deschacht was no longer able to continue the role.[66] Deschacht's captaincy was met with disapproval by supporters.[67] Towards the end of October, he suffered a shoulder injury which had to be operated on[68] and put him out for four months.[69] He made his return on 15 January 2012, setting up one of the goals, in a 3–0 win over Club Brugge.[70] It wasn't until on 18 March 2012 when he scored his second goal of the season, in a 2–2 draw against Sint-Truiden.[71] Despite missing out with a shoulder injury, Biglia helped the club win the league this season, his first in two years[72] and went on to make thirty-eight appearances and scoring two tines in all competitions. For his performance, Biglia was awarded the club's Player of the Year this season by the club's supporters.[73]

Biglia (wearing number five) in a friendly match against Red Bull Salzburg in 2012

In the 2012–13 season, Biglia was linked with a move away from Anderlecht, with the likes of Arsenal,[74] Norwich City,[75] Real Madrid and Inter, showing an interest.[76] However, he remained at Anderlecht when the summer transfer window closed. In the first half of the season, Biglia continued to impress as a captain and performance and scored three times by the end of 2012 against Waasland-Beveren, Club Brugge and Cercle Brugge.[77][78][79] In the January transfer window, Biglia again claimed he wanted to leave Anderlecht,[80] with Southampton wanting to sign him.[81] Biglia attempted to force a move by failing to show up for training.[82] After the transfer window ended, the club announced that Biglia would leave the club in the summer, along with Dieumerci Mbokani.[83] Biglia would claim that his absence was due to depression. He also stated that he never wanted to leave the club.[84] Later in the 2012–13 season, Biglia scored his fourth goal of the season, but received his first red card in his Anderlecht career, as they drew 2–2 against Standard Liège on 3 February 2013.[85] On the last game of the Jupiler Pro League play-off, Biglia scored the equaliser against Zulte Waregem, which gave Anderlecht the title.[86] After leading the club winning the league for the second time this season, Biglia went on to make fifty-one appearance and scoring five times in all competitions.

Shortly after winning the title, general manager Herman Van Holsbeeck confirmed that Biglia would leave the club. During the final match, he performed a lap of honour for the fans.[87] During his time at Anderlecht, Biglia's playing style was often compared with that of compatriot Fernando Redondo, due to his accurate passing and hard tackling.[31]

Lazio[edit]

On 23 July 2013, Italian side Lazio announced that Biglia would be signing a five-year contract for an undisclosed fee.[88] Previously, the club have been Biglia's main transfer target since 2010.[89] According to Lazio's financial report, Biglia cost Lazio about €8.4 million, including €750,000 agent fee.[90]

Biglia made his Lazio debut, in the opening game of the season, starting and playing the whole game, in a 2–1 win over Udinese Calcio.[91] However, he was sidelined with a calf injury that kept him out twice throughout the whole 2013.[92][93] Despite this, Biglia established himself in the starting eleven, under the management of Vladimir Petković, becoming the club's first choice defensive midfielder.[94] Biglia then scored his first goal for the club on 22 December 2013, in a 4–1 loss against Hellas Verona.[95] In a match against A.C. Milan on 23 March 2014, he set up a goal for Álvaro González to score an equaliser, in a 1–1 draw.[96] After being sidelined with a rib injury, Biglia, however, was sent-off on his return from injury after a second bookable offence, in a 2–0 victory against Sampdoria on 6 April 2014.[97][98] On the last game of the season, Biglia scored the only goal of the game, in a 1–0 win over Bologna.[99] In his first season at the club, Biglia went on to finish the season, making thirty-two appearances and scoring two times in all competitions.

In the 2014–15 season, Biglia continued to start in the first team before suffering a foot injury during a match against Genoa that kept him out for weeks.[100] After returning to the first team, he scored his first goal of the season on 26 October 2014, in a 2–1 win over Torino.[101] He then suffered another injury by the end of the year, but this time, it was a tear in the abductor muscle.[102] Biglia then scored a penalty in the quarter-final of Coppa Italia, in a 1–0 win over A.C. Milan.[103] Subsequently, he helped the club reached the final, but he did not play, due to injury and Lazio lost 1–0 to Juventus.[104][105] It wasn't until on 9 March 2015, Biglia scored again, in a 4–0 win over Fiorentina.[106] He then scored again on 4 April 2015, in a 3–1 win over Cagliari.[107] Despite suffering from another injury,[108] Biglia finished his second season, making thirty-one appearances and scoring four times in all competitions.

In the 2015–16 season, Biglia was appointed as the new Lazio captain following Stefano Mauri's departure (eventually returning to the club soon after)[109] and captained his first match in the Supercoppa Italiana match, losing 2–0 against Juventus.[110] Following the match, Bigila regained a good start in the opening game of the season and scoring in a 2–1 win over Bologna.[111] After suffering a calf injury during the latter match, he marked his return from injury by setting up a goal in a 2–0 win over Hellas Verona on 27 September 2015; he subsequently scored in a 3–2 win over Saint-Étienne the UEFA Europa League.[112][113][114] After recovering from a hamstring injury, Biglia scored again on 28 October 2015, in a 2–1 loss against Atalanta.[115][116] Despite being sidelined, due to suspension and injury, it wasn't until on 6 March 2016 when he scored his fifth goal of the season, in a 1–1 draw against Torino.[117][118] However, Biglia was sent-off on 8 May 2016 after a second bookable offence, in a 3–1 win over Carpi.[119]

Ahead of the 2016–17 season, Biglia's future at the club became uncertain after there were no contract offers and would discussed his future following the end of Copa América Centenario.[120][121] Eventually, he stayed at the club throughout the summer and continued to remain in the first team despite suffering from injuries.[122][123] After returning to the first team, Biglia then scored his second goal of the season, in a 3–1 win over Genoa on 20 November 2016 and scored a month later, in a 3–1 win over Fiorentina.[124][125] In January 2017, Biglia began talks over a new contract with the club.[126] However, his future was in doubt after he rejected a new contract, prompting interests from La Liga clubs, including Atlético Madrid.[127] Amid to the transfer speculation, Biglia scored two more goals against Inter Milan and AC Milan.[128][129] In a match against Bologna on 5 March 2017, Biglia suffered an injury and was substituted as a result, in a 2–0 win.[130] Although the injury turned out to be less threatening,[131] he, however, suffered a tore in the abductor muscle that resulted him out for one match.[132] But Biglia scored on his return from injury, in a 2–2 draw against Genoa on 15 April 2017.[133] In a 7–3 win over Sampdoria on 7 May 2017, Biglia then set up two of the goals to help the club qualify for Europe next season.[134] In total, Biglia made thirty-four appearances and scored five times in all competitions throughout the 2016–17 season.

Milan[edit]

After several rumours in the media over Biglia's uncertain future at Lazio,[135] in July 2017, it was announced that Lazio and Milan had made an agreement for Biglia to join the latter club.[136] The move was confirmed on 16 July 2017, when Biglia officially signed a contract that would keep him at the Milan-based club until 2020,[137] in a deal that reportedly cost Milan €17 million.[138]

International career[edit]

Youth career[edit]

Biglia made his first international appearance for the Argentina U-17 squad and was part of the squad that won South American Under-17 Football Championship, and came third in the FIFA U-17 World Championship, in which he was named Player of the Year.[139] During the U17 World Cup, Biglia scored his first national goal in a semi-final, in a 3–2 loss against Spain.[140] While playing for the Argentina U17, Biglia captained the side on numerous of occasions.[141]

In January 2005, Biglia played for the Argentina U-20 team, participating in the South American U-20 Championship in Colombia and the side went on to win the tournament.[142] Later in the year, Biglia played for FIFA World Youth Championship and once again win the tournament this year.[143]

Three years later, there was a potential chance when Biglia would play for Argentine Olympic team at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, along with teammate Pareja, after being called up for the pre-selection.[144] Later in July, it was announced that Biglia would not be part of the Olympic team squad after Sergio Batista announced the final squad.[145]

Senior career[edit]

Biglia playing for Argentina in 2011

In October 2009, Biglia hope his performance at Anderlecht could lead him to get his first call up by then Manager Diego Maradona, but it never happened.[146] It wasn't until in November 2010 when Biglia was called up by Batista for the match against Brazil, but did not play.[147]

In February 2011, Biglia was called up again, a decision that surprised him.[148] Unlike his first call up, his first match for Argentina, in a friendly match against Portugal, which saw them win 2–1.[149] During the same year, Biglia was included by manager Sergio Batista ahead of the Copa América tournament despite an injury, he sustained at Anderlecht, could threaten his chance to play in the tournament.[150][151] At Copa América tournament, Biglia went on to make two brief substitute appearances as the hosts lost to Uruguay in the quarter-finals on a penalty shootout.

On 2 June 2014, Biglia was called up for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.[152] A late substitute in every match up to that point, he was an undisputed starter from the quarter-finals onward, as his nation lost 0–1 to Germany in the final.[94][153] Biglia also appeared as a starter in five of Argentina's six 2015 Copa América matches, including the final where La Albiceleste lost in a penalty shootout to hosts Chile.[154]

On 17 November 2015, Biglia scored his first and only international goal in a 1–0 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying win over Colombia in Barranquilla.[155]

Biglia was named to Gerardo Martino's 23-man Argentine side that reached the Copa América Centenario Final.[156] He played in the final of the competition against Chile for the full 120-minutes, which ended in a 0–0 draw after extra-time; in the resulting penalty shoot-out, his penalty was saved by Claudio Bravo, and Chile went on to win 4–2 after netting the next kick.[157] Following the end of the tournament, Biglia was among seven players considering retirement after Lionel Messi announced his retirement, but this never happened.[158]

In May 2018, Biglia was named by manager Jorge Sampaoli in Argentina's final 23-man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.[159] He made his only appearance in the competition in his team's opening group match against Iceland on 16 June, which ended in a 1–1 draw; he was replaced in the second half by Éver Banega.[160] On 30 June 2018, after Argentina's 4–3 loss to France in the round of 16 of the tournament, Biglia announced his retirement from international duty with 58 caps and one goal.[161]

Style of play[edit]

Nicknamed El Principito (the "Little Prince", in Spanish), due to his diminutive stature, Biglia is usually deployed as a defensive midfielder, where he normally functions as deep-lying playmaker in midfield; during his time with Belgian side Anderlecht, his playing style drew comparisons with compatriot Fernando Redondo. Although Biglia is competent defensively, due to his work-rate and aggression, as well as his ability to read the game and break down opposing attacks, he is also known for his ability to dictate the tempo of his team's play in midfield or create goalscoring opportunities after winning back the ball, courtesy of his good technique, vision, passing accuracy, and anticipation, as well as his personality, temperament and leadership. He is also known for his ball-striking ability from outside the area, and is an accurate free kick and penalty kick taker.[31][162][163][164][165][166][167][168]

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

As of 13 May 2018[169]
Club Season League Cup Continental Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Independiente 2005–06 7 0 0 0 0 0 7 0
Anderlecht 2006–07 33 1 7 0 6 0 46 1
2007–08 30 1 8 0 11 0 49 1
2008–09 32 2 2 0 1 1 35 3
2009–10 34 1 2 1 12 2 48 4
2010–11 26 0 2 0 7 0 35 0
2011–12 30 2 1 0 7 0 38 2
2012–13 36 5 5 0 10 0 51 5
Total 221 12 27 1 54 3 302 16
Lazio 2013–14 26 2 2 0 4 0 32 2
2014–15 27 3 4 1 0 0 31 4
2015–16 27 4 3 0 6 1 36 5
2016–17 29 4 5 1 34 5
Total 109 13 14 2 10 1 133 16
Milan 2017–18 28 1 4 0 5 0 37 1
Career Total 425 26 45 3 69 4 481 33

International[edit]

As of 16 June 2018[169]
Argentina
Year Apps Goals
2011 6 0
2012 1 0
2013 9 0
2014 12 0
2015 10 1
2016 11 0
2017 6 0
2018 3 0
Total 58 1

International goal[edit]

No. Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1
17 November 2015 Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Meléndez, Barranquilla, Colombia  Colombia
1–0
1–0
2018 FIFA World Cup qualification

Personal life[edit]

On 20 December 2011, De Standaard reported that Biglia had married his childhood friend, Cecilia Ambrosio. The wedding took place at The Place Tokeh Sands in Freetown, Sierra Leone.[170] Together, the couple has a daughter (born in 2009) [171][172][173] After three years living in Belgium, Biglia was granted the Italian Citizenship through his Italian heritage.[174]

In his early career at Anderlecht, Biglia earned a nickname: "the little prince",[175] as well as, being as a perfectionist and notorious brooder.[176] In March 2008, Biglia, along with Frutos and Pareja, were involved in a humanitarian aid to help disadvantaged young people in Argentina.[177]

However, in July 2008, Biglia rushed back to Argentina after his father died of a heart attack.[178] He spoke out for the first time with Het Nieuwsblad in October 2008, saying that losing his father affected him.[179] Biglia has an older brother, Christian, also a footballer, who went on a trial at Royal Antwerp in August 2009, but the trial was unsuccessful.[180]

In June 2009, Biglia was reportedly in hospital in his homeland, claiming that he had H1N1 (Swine flu) virus, but test revealed at the end that he did not.[181]

Honours[edit]

Anderlecht[169]

Argentina[169]

Individual

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In isolation, Lucas and Biglia are pronounced [ˈlukas] and [ˈbiɣlja] respectively.

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil: List of Players" (PDF). FIFA.com. 11 June 2014. p. 2. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  3. ^ https://www.acmilan.com/en/news/official-statement/2017-07-16/official-biglia-is-now-red-and-black
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  5. ^ "FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005 Teams: Argentina". FIFA. Retrieved 30 July 2009. 
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  46. ^ "Blessure Biglia valt mee" (in Dutch). De Standaard. 28 December 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  47. ^ "Anderlecht moet tevreden zijn met 1–1 in Bilbao" (in Dutch). HLN.be. 18 February 2010. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  48. ^ "Petric beruhigt Labbadias Nerven" (in German). kicker.de. 18 March 2010. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
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External links[edit]