Today we’ll be looking at a man who needs no introduction - Paolo Cesare Maldini, the legendary AC Milan and Italian defender. “Il Capitano” spent every one of his 25 seasons as a professional footballer at AC Milan, and won 26 titles with the Rossoneri in 902 appearances. Maldini played at left- and center-back for club and country, and was famed for his pace, power and incredible defensive ability.
I was lucky enough to meet Maldini when I was much younger, and he is one of my favorite players of all time. So when I had the chance to buy him, and stick him into my team on FIFA 17, I didn’t hesitate for a moment.
Paolo Maldini has some truly incredible IG stats:
Maldini’s default position is a left-back, but I played at center-back on 7 chemistry, with the anchor chemistry style. With the anchor chemistry style, even on 7 chem, his stats receive a significant boost:
I used Maldini in my Division 1 and FUT Champions team:
This is my favorite team this year on FIFA - it’s not only fun to use, but is also extremely effective. With variations of this team, I’ve won Division 1 eight times in nine attempts, falling a point short on the ninth attempt. In the latest run, with Maldini in the team, I went 8-1-0, conceding just a handful of goals.
I picked up Maldini for 610,000 coins on open bid, which is about 110K less than his current going price of 725,000 coins. Here are my stats with him:
Chem. Style: Anchor
Let’s get into the review.
Blistering. I had absolutely no issues with his pace - in the 11 games I’ve used him in, he wasn’t beaten for pace even once. Not even MOTM Walcott and TOTY Ronaldo could burst past him. With the anchor chemistry style, he has 90 pace, and if possible, he feels even faster. He can catch up with anyone who gets past the defensive line, and cleans up any mistakes the full-backs make.
Unlike with Cannavaro, I’m not going to rate his shooting. This is because Maldini doesn’t get into positions to shoot - he’ll come up for corners, and if he doesn’t get the header, he’ll bomb back up the field to return to his defensive position. His heading is good - his only goal was a wonderful headed finish from a James Milner corner that secured me a 2-0 win in my final Division 1 game.
Maldini has superb passing stats - he has great short and long passing, both of which feel far better in game. He can start attacks by himself, pinging a wonderful ball up the field, or drilling a pass through the opposition midfield. He’s very composed at the back, and thanks to his 4* weak foot, can pass with either foot. He didn’t make a mistake in the games I used him. His crossing is also pretty decent - he swung in a couple of decent crosses when he got the opportunity.
Maldini has very good ball control, and high enough agility and balance to deal with all but the most agile attackers. Thanks to his 91 reactions, he can turn instantly, and recover faster than any other player on the field, making him incredibly difficult to beat. On the ball, his first touch is decent, and he never lost the ball due to a bad touch or poor dribbling. Overall, his dribbling felt far higher than his stats show.
You’re reading that correctly - I gave him an 11/10. His defending isn’t just perfect - it’s better than perfect. In the 11 games I used him in, he didn’t get a single yellow card - he didn’t even give away a single foul. His tackling is sublime - he can dispossess anyone in the game with his standing tackling. It doesn’t matter if he’s behind them or in front of them, or if he is running or standing still - he always gets the ball. His sliding tackles are the same story - from any angle, against any player, and no matter where he is positioned, he gets a foot on the ball. Most of the time, it completely dispossesses the attacker and Maldini walks away with the ball - if not, he’s instantly back on his feet to finish them off. His marking and interceptions are ridiculous - it’s not possible for the opposition to play a through ball past my defense when Maldini is there. He reads every passes, tracks every run, marks every threat - he’s as effective as the rest of my defenders combined. Finally, his heading accuracy - he can make some stunning passes and vital clearances with his head, and he never loses an aerial challenge. The only player capable of dominating him in the air is Zlatan, and Maldini can still put up a decent fight.
He’s incredibly strong - no attacker can bully him, and shielding is completely ineffective against Maldini. He will dominate any player who goes shoulder to shoulder with him, and if an attacker manages to shrug him off, he has the pace to just run in front of them and dispossess them with a perfect tackle. His aggression feels a little higher in game, but the low aggression may be why he gives away so few fouls, and is such a clean player. His jumping is phenomenal - combined with his fantastic heading accuracy and decent height, he can stop and clear all crosses, and win a lot of opposition goal kicks. Finally, his stamina is very high, allowing him to keep running until the end of the game.
Maldini is the best defender I’ve ever used, and certainly one of the best in the game. He’s significantly better than NIF Boateng, Ramos, Silva or Chiellini - his defensive abilities, combined with his pace, put him on another level. Based on my experience with TOTY Ramos, Maldini is just as good (plus, he links with any player thanks to being a legend).
Compared to other Legend center-backs, he’s one of the best. He’s less expensive than the three most commonly used ones (Ferdinand, Desailly and Blanc), but is faster than all of them, has better defending, is better on the ball, and has comparable physical (especially when boosted when a chemistry style).
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide whether any center-back is worth 600-700K. I paired Maldini with Chris ‘Smalldini’ Smalling, and while Maldini was significantly better, I don’t know if he was 600K better. However, there is no doubt that Maldini is one of the best center-backs in the game, and a player you should definitely try out if you get the chance.