Riccardo Montolivo

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Riccardo Montolivo
Riccardo Montolivo Euro 2012 vs England.jpg
Montolivo playing for Italy at the UEFA Euro 2012
Personal information
Full name Riccardo Montolivo[1]
Date of birth (1985-01-18) 18 January 1985 (age 33)[2]
Place of birth Milan, Italy[3]
Height 1.82 m (5 ft 11 12 in)[4]
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Milan
Number 18
Youth career
1992–2003 Atalanta
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2003–2005 Atalanta 73 (7)
2005–2012 Fiorentina 219 (17)
2012– Milan 129 (8)
National team
2004–2006 Italy U21 19 (3)
2008 Italy Olympic 4 (1)
2007– Italy 66 (2)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 13 May 2018
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 5 September 2017

Riccardo Montolivo (Italian pronunciation: [rikˈkardo montoˈlivo]; born 18 January 1985) is an Italian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Serie A club Milan and internationally for the Italy national team.

A versatile and creative cone, Montolivo began his career with Atalanta in 2003 before joining Fiorentina in 2005. He went on to make more than 250 appearances for the club in seven years. In 2012, he signed for Milan on a free transfer and was given the club's captaincy the season following the departure of Massimo Ambrosini.

Montolivo made his debut for the Italian national team in 2007 against South Africa, Since then, he represented the country in two FIFA Confederations Cups (2009 and 2013, winning a bronze medal in the latter edition of the tournament), as well as in the 2010 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2012, the latter where he played as a starter in the final. He also participated in the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Club career[edit]

Atalanta[edit]

Montolivo is a graduate of the Atalanta youth academy. He made his debut for the club in a Serie B match against Piacenza, coming onto the pitch as an 81st-minute substitute for Michele Marcoliniego.[5] His first starting match came in a 2–1 win against Hellas Verona.[6] From that match onwards, he was frequently in the starting line-up,[7] scoring his first goal against Bari in a 2–0 win.[8] Atalanta finished the 2003–04 season in fifth position and were promoted to Serie A through the play-offs.

Montolivo missed the first matches of his debut season in Serie A because he was out with an injury.[9] He made his Serie A debut in a 2–2 draw against Lecce.[10] He scored goals in consecutive matches against Cagliari and Parma.[11][12] On 23 January 2005, he received the first red card of his career in a match against Lecce.[13] Atalanta finished last in the 2004–05 Serie A and was relegated.[14] Montolivo won 32 caps and scored three goals in his debut season in the Serie A.[15]

Fiorentina[edit]

Montolivo as Fiorentina captain in 2011

In the summer of 2005, Fiorentina signed Montolivo in a co-ownership deal for €3.5 million.[16] He subsequently signed a five-year contract.[16] He was given the jersey number 18.[17] During the 2005–06 season, Montolivo's first-team chances were limited, partly due to the fact he was still an inexperienced player and partly because manager Cesare Prandelli had a relatively stable and reliable squad of players at his disposal.[18] However, Montolivo's talent did not go unrecognised – he became a regular fixture in the Italy national under-21 team, coached by Pierluigi Casiraghi.[18] Montolivo eventually made his Fiorentina debut in a 2–1 loss to Internazionale.[19]

Montolivo taking a corner against Lazio

Despite being associated with the Calciopoli scandal, Fiorentina signed Montolivo on a permanent basis the following season for €2 million.[20] He played a total of 36 matches for Fiorentina, scoring two goals. He also declared he would continue playing for the Viola.[21]

The 2007–08 season began well for Montolivo. In the first matchday, he was as one of the best on the field against Empoli, against which he also scored a splendid goal with a lob.[22] The season followed with ups and downs, but during its course, Montolivo confirmed himself as one of the best talents in Italian football.[citation needed]

His good form earned him a spot for the Summer Olympics in Beijing. As he sustained an injury while playing in the competition, he missed the first round of 2008–09 Serie A, against Juventus.[23] He scored a crucial brace as Fiorentina defeated Udinese 4–2 after being down 0–1 in the first half.[24] Montolivo scored two more goals against Sampdoria and Napoli and he ended the season with two goals, two more than his previous season.[25] On 17 January 2009, he captained Fiorentina for the first time in a 1–0 defeat to Milan.[26]

In 2009–10 season, Montolivo was made club captain following the departure of Dario Dainelli.[27] Montolivo also expressed that the departure of Dainelli and Martin Jørgensen had weakened the team, but with Sébastien Frey and Marco Donadel, he formed a strong midfield.[27] Despite gaining attention from big clubs he said that Fiorentina was his house and he would not change his club.[28]

Again, the next season started with injury for Montolivo—he had a small problem with his ankle. However, he was operated and it was remedied.[29] His form saw him included in Italian squad for 2010 FIFA World Cup.[30] He scored goals against Palermo[31] and Cesena[32] as he ended the season with 2 goals in 29 matches.[2]

At the beginning of his last season Fiorentina, 2011–12, Montolivo said he would leave Fiorentina after his contract expired, expressing an intent to play for a club of higher calibre.[33][34] As a result, he was stripped of his captaincy and replaced by Alessandro Gamberini, with Stevan Jovetić as vice-captain.[35] Montolivo made his 200th appearance for the club in a 2–0 loss against Palermo on 27 November 2011.[36]

Milan[edit]

Montolivo with Kevin-Prince Boateng in 2012

In May 2012, Milan head coach Massimiliano Allegri announced Montolivo would join the club on a free transfer when his contract with Fiorentina expired on 30 June.[37][38] Montolivo then signed a four-year contract with the club.[39] "Next season, Montolivo will arrive and he is a very talented player with great technique," said Allegri to Milan Channel.[37][40] He chose to wear the number 18 jersey which he had worn before and which was last worn by Alberto Aquilani in Milan.[41]

In the Milan derby though he was highly praised for his performance, the referee disallowed a stunning 30-yard volley by Montolivo due to a challenge committed by Urby Emanuelson.[42] On 30 October, Montolivo scored his first goal for Milan, coming in the 69th minute after Milan were down 2–0 to Palermo. Milan eventually drew the match 2–2, salvaging a point.[43]

On 25 November, in a 1–0 win against Juventus, Montolivo played his first match as Milan's captain as Daniele Bonera and Massimo Ambrosini were suspended while Christian Abbiati was out injured.[44] He ended the first season at the club by becoming one of the two (the other being Stephan El Shaarawy) most-used players of the season.[45] On 11 June 2013, Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani stated Montolivo would be the next captain for Milan after previously announcing that current club captain Massimo Ambrosini would not be extending his contract with the Rossoneri.[46]

After earning the captaincy, Montolivo opened his account by scoring against Catania.[47] He then scored in a 4–3 defeat to Sassulo.[48] On 13 April 2014, he scored an astonishing long-range strike in the 23rd minute against Catania, which extended Milan's winning streak to four matches.[49] After breaking his leg in a pre-2014 World Cup friendly match against the Republic of Ireland on 31 May, Montolivo was ruled out for six months. On 30 November, he made his return in a 2–0 home win over Udinese, coming on as a substitute in the 88th minute.[50]

Ahead of the 2018–19 season, head coach Gennaro Gattuso excluded Montolivo from the senior squad for "technical reasons".

International career[edit]

Junior teams[edit]

Montolivo tackling Spain's Xavi in the UEFA Euro 2012 Final

Montolivo represented Italy at under-16, under-18, under-19, and under-21 levels before receiving his first cap for the senior team in 2007.[51]

Montolivo scored the winning goal when Italy's under-21 team defeated Spain 2–1 and qualified for the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Championship on 10 October 2006. One year and seven days later, he made his debut for the senior team in a 2–0 friendly win against South Africa.[51][52][53] Despite being ineligible for the 2007–08 season of the under-21 team, Montolivo capped once for the de facto Olympic team against the Dutch Olympic team in February 2008, where he was eligible for Beijing as underage player.

Montolivo was included in Italy's provisional squad for the UEFA Euro 2008 by head coach Roberto Donadoni. However, he was omitted from the final 23-man squad. The same summer, Pierluigi Casiraghi called-up Montolivo to participate in the Olympic Games in Beijing. He scored one goal in four appearances as Italy were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Belgium.[51]

Senior team[edit]

In October 2007, Montolivo was called by Roberto Donadoni to face Georgia in Euro 2008 qualifiers.[54] He did not play in that match but made his debut in a 2–1 win in a friendly against South Africa.[55] In May 2008, Montolivo was included in Italy's preliminary squad for the Euro 2008 final stages,[56] but he was omitted from the final 23-man squad.[57] However, Donadoni said Montolivo would be a key part of Italy's midfield in the future.[58] Montolivo's second appearance came over a year after the first, against Bulgaria in the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification.[59]

In June 2009, Montolivo was selected to play in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.[60][61] Italy were eliminated at the group stage. Montolivo started the match against Brazil[62] but played the other two matches as a substitute.[63][64] In 2010, Montolivo was named in Marcello Lippi's squad for the 2010 World Cup.[65] Due to the injury sustained by Andrea Pirlo, he started Italy's first two group matches against Paraguay[66] and New Zealand.[67] In the third match, Montolivo was again in the starting line-up but was replaced by Pirlo in the 56th minute, as the Azzurri lost 3–2 to Slovakia and were eliminated.[68]

Montolivo scored his first senior international goal in a 2–1 friendly win against Spain in Bari.[69] Montolivo was named to Italy's 23-man squad for Euro 2012,[70] and made four appearances throughout the tournament, playing as a false attacking midfielder in Prandelli's 4–3–1–2 formation.[71] Italy progressed to the final, where they lost 4–0 to Spain.[72][73] In the quarter-final match against England, he missed his penalty in the resulting shoot-out, following a 0–0 draw after extra-time, although Italy still advanced to the next round following a 4–2 victory in the shoot-out.[74] In the semi-final match against Germany, he assisted Mario Balotelli's second goal of the match with a long ball, as the Italians advanced to the final after a 2–1 win.[75]

Montolivo was called up to Italy's 23-man squad for the 2013 Confederations Cup.[76] He appeared in all five of his team's matches, including the third-place play-off against Uruguay, during which he was sent off after receiving a double booking. Italy nonetheless won the match on penalties, earning the bronze medal.[77]

Montolivo was named in Italy's 30-man preliminary squad for the 2014 World Cup under Cesare Prandelli, but was ruled out of the tournament after suffering a broken leg in a friendly match against the Republic of Ireland at Craven Cottage, London, on 31 May.[78][79]

After initially being named to Antonio Conte's 30-man provisional squad for Euro 2016, on 31 May 2016, Montolivo was omitted from the final 23-man squad due to injury.[80][81] He returned to the national team under Conte's successor, Giampiero Ventura, making a substitute appearance in a 3–1 friendly home defeat to France on 1 September.[82] However, in Italy's second 2018 World Cup qualifying match on 6 October, a 1–1 home draw against Spain, he was forced off with yet another injury. It was later revealed he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury to his left knee, which would rule him out for six months.[83]

Style of play[edit]

Montolivo has been described as a versatile player capable of playing anywhere in the midfield.[84] His main and favoured role is in the centre as a deep-lying playmaker, which best utilises his technical ability, creativity, vision, and range of passing, although he is also capable of playing as an attacking midfielder, even though this is not his preferred position.[85] He also possesses an accurate and powerful shot from outside the penalty area.[86] With the Italy national team, under Cesare Prandelli, Montolivo also played in a new role as false attacking midfielder in a 4–3–1–2 formation, in particular at Euro 2012.[71] In recent years, he has also been praised for his work-rate, physical qualities and for his defensive attributes, including his ability to read the game, intercept loose balls, break down possession and subsequently start attacking plays,[87][88][89][90] which led manager Siniša Mihajlović to deploy him in a holding role as a ball-winner.[91] However, Montolivo has also drawn criticism at times for his lack of pace, and has been accused of being inconsistent, and of lacking leadership qualities, despite having served as Milan's captain.[90][92] He has also struggled with injuries throughout his career.[93]

Personal life[edit]

Montolivo at a press conference

Montolivo was born to a German mother and an Italian father in Milan, but the couple soon relocated to Caravaggio, where he spent most of his childhood.[3][94] He has a brother, Luca, who is 4 years older and works as a lawyer.[95]

In addition to holding an Italian passport, Montolivo also holds a German passport – his mother is from Ascheberg and his grandparents are from Heidkate at the Kieler Förde on the Baltic Sea coast, where he spent all of his summers as a youth.[94] In addition to Italian, Montolivo also speaks fluent German.[96] In his youth, he looked upon Francesco Totti, Zinedine Zidane and Frank Lampard as his idols.[95]

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

As of match played on 13 May 2018.[2][97]
Club Season League Cup Europe Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Atalanta 2003–04 Serie B 41 4 1 6 0 0 42 4
2004–05 Serie A 32 3 5 0 0 0 38 3
2005–06 Serie B 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 0
Total 73 7 9 0 0 0 82 7
Fiorentina 2005–06 Serie A 20 1 2 0 0 0 22 1
2006–07 Serie A 36 2 0 0 0 0 36 2
2007–08 Serie A 34 2 2 0 11[a] 1 47 3
2008–09 Serie A 34 4 0 0 8[b] 0 42 4
2009–10 Serie A 36 2 4 0 10[c] 1 50 3
2010–11 Serie A 29 2 0 0 0 0 29 2
2011–12 Serie A 30 4 3 0 0 0 33 4
Total 219 17 11 0 29 2 259 19
Milan 2012–13 Serie A 32 4 1 0 6[c] 0 39 4
2013–14 Serie A 29 3 1 0 7[c] 0 37 3
2014–15 Serie A 10 0 2 0 12 0
2015–16 Serie A 31 0 4 0 35 0
2016–17 Serie A 9 0 0 0 9 0
2017–18 Serie A 18 1 3 0 5[d] 2 26 3
2018–19 Serie A 0 0 0 0 0[d] 0 0 0
Total 129 8 10 0 18 2 158 10
Career total 421 32 30 0 47 4 499 36
Notes
  1. ^ Appearances in the UEFA Europa League
  2. ^ 6 appearances in the UEFA Champions League, 2 in the UEFA Europa League
  3. ^ a b c Appearances in the UEFA Champions League
  4. ^ a b Appearances in the UEFA Europa League

International[edit]

As of match played on 5 September 2017.[52]
Italy national team
Year Apps Goals
2007 1 0
2008 2 0
2009 8 0
2010 8 0
2011 12 1
2012 9 1
2013 16 0
2014 2 0
2015 3 0
2016 3 0
2017 2 0
Total 66 2

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Italy's goal tally first.[51]
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 10 August 2011 Stadio San Nicola, Bari, Italy  Spain 1–0 2–1 Friendly
2. 16 October 2012 San Siro, Milan, Italy  Denmark 1–0 3–1 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification

Honours[edit]

Club[edit]

Milan[97]

International[edit]

Italy[97]

Individual[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Dario Dainelli
Fiorentina captain
2009–2011
Succeeded by
Alessandro Gamberini
Preceded by
Massimo Ambrosini
Milan captain
2013–2017
Succeeded by
Leonardo Bonucci