Position: Centre-back / Right-back
Club: AC Milan
Plenty of playing time for Milan’s Primavera team, a switch to a Serie B club Varese in order to get first-team minutes under his belt and progression from the Czech Under-19s to the Czech Under-20s: What more could you ask for?
As it turns out, a lot more.
Stefan Simic’s 2014 was as frustrating as it was noteworthy. For all the hype surrounding the former Slavia defender, a regular starting berth was hard to come by as Varese dropped into the clichéd dogfight that is relegation.
Still, there was more than enough credit in the bank to merit a place on this list.
2015 started the way that 2014 ended.
Along with fellow defensive partners Angelo Rea and Martino Borghese, Simic dropped in and out of favour as Varese manager Stefano Bettinelli chopped and changed his personnel and formation on a weekly basis. His best run came in March when he made the starting eleven for three straight games. By this point, Il Leopardi were lost at sea and sunk to the foot of the table. Relegation to the Lego Pro of Italian football looked to be an inevitable outcome.
With hindsight, it is easy to say that the loan move to Varese was the wrong one but at the time the deal was confirmed, nobody knew just how bad things would be for the Lombardy club. Bankruptcy followed relegation and the club, reborn under the guise of Varese Calcio, ended up in the Eccellenza Lombardia, a regionalised part of the amateur fifth tier.
It goes without saying, but the atmosphere at the club must have been terrible.
Unfortunately, this tale does not end with a feel-good conclusion where the young Czech gallantly fought on until the end and emerged a better person (and player) for it. Instead, it is a story of pain and rehabilitation that seems to be all too familiar this year. Simic broke his leg in the spring and returned to Milan to undergo treatment.
After eight months out, Simic made a return of sorts when Sinisa Mihajlovic named the Czech on the Milan bench for their Coppa Italia fifth-round tie against Sampdoria.
Playing football should be the primary concern of Stefan Simic.
Speaking to Czech4Sport, the defender stated that he has discussed his future with Mihajlovic and the rest of the Milan management but despite being amongst the substitutes for the ties against Carpi (cup) and Fiorentina (league) this year, his immediate status within the first-team picture is murky at best.
Hopefully, he finds a club before the transfer window shuts. He needs minutes, not hours spent sat on a bench, or in the stands.
- Posted by Chris Boothroyd
- On 10th January 2016