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Getting To Know: Gabriel Milito

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GIJON SPAIN - FEBRUARY 12:  Gabriel Milito of Barcelona runs with the ball during the la Liga match between Sporting Gijon and Barcelona at El Molinon Stadium on February 12 2011 in Gijon Spain.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
GIJON SPAIN - FEBRUARY 12: Gabriel Milito of Barcelona runs with the ball during the la Liga match between Sporting Gijon and Barcelona at El Molinon Stadium on February 12 2011 in Gijon Spain. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
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Full name: Gabriel Alejandro Milito
Squad No: 18
Position: Center back
Date of birth: 7 September 1980
Place of birth: Bernal, Argentina
Height: 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Weight: 78 kg (172 lbs)

Gabriel Milito was born 10 miles south of Buenos Aires and started playing football at Independiente, a local club that is coincidentally one of Argentina's most successful clubs. A standout throughout the youth campaign joined the first team at the age of 17. His natural skills allowed him to almost immediately earn a starting eleven spot.

Milito was well on his way to a bright future, but in 2001 he tore cruciate ligaments in his right knee and was out for nine months. Shortly after his return to the pitch he suffered a broken meniscus, ruling him out for another four months.

The young defender managed to make a full recovery and was a key member of Independiante's Opening Championship victory. Milito's career in his boyhood club ended with a résumé of 123 games played and three goals scored.

In 2002 "El Mariscal" decided to take his talents to Spain where he was supposed to sign with Real Madrid. However, the club doctors determined his knee wasn't fully healed, therefore blocking the contract signing. So Gabriel decided to go to La Romaleda, the home of Real Zaragoza. There he anchored the back line and led the club to two trophies.

Eventually, Gabriel Milito's Real Zaragoza would win the Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid, the side that had deemed him unfit. After four successful seasons, 151 appearances and five goals for the Aragonese side he transferred to Barcelona.

The transfer was valued at €20.5M and Milito was expected to play a vital role in Barcelona's defense. He made his Blaugrana debut on 2 September 2007 in a Primera Division game against Athletic Bilbao. At first Milito's Barca career went as planned and the Argentine was brilliant, but in 2008, in a Champions League match against Manchester United, he tore his ACL, again in his problematic right knee. Normally the healing process takes around a year, but Milito suffered numerous setbacks and it took him 602 days to recover from that particular injury.

His surgically repaired knee still isn't 100%, but as it is often the case, his knee might never fully recover. Milito is struggling to play at a very high level and because of the lost mobility Guardiola currently can't trust him with more than spot starts and bench warming duties.

A center back of Milito's calibre, provided he's fit and healthy, should've played around 150 games ever since Pep Guardiola took charge. Instead, Milito has just been limited to 72 games, he made 42 of these appearances in his debut campaign with FC Barcelona. He has scored twice, once in the cup and once in the league.

Milito debuted with the Argentine national team when he was still on the books of Independiente. He made his full-senior debut in 2000, but then the first knee injury halted his international career. Since his recovery, he was slowly reintegrated in the La Albiceleste squad, however, only in 2007 he was considered an undisputed starter. 

Profile

Gabriel Milito has/had a great sense of positioning and before his career threatening injury he had the speed to cover most of attackers. He is an adequate passer and he can help out in attack as well. Nevertheless, Milito lacks the height to be a real threat in the air, but he has a good enough vertical leap not to be a liability in that area.

Honors
CA Independiente

  • Apertura (1): 2002

Real Zaragoza

  • Copa del Rey (1): 2003-04

  • Supercopa de España (1): 2004

FC Barcelona

  • La Liga (2): 2008-09, 2009-10

  • Copa del Rey (1): 2008-09

  • Supercopa de España (2): 2009, 2010

  • UEFA Champions League (1): 2008-09

  • UEFA Super Cup (1): 2008-09

  • FIFA Club World Cup (1): 2009

Milito has one year left on his contract, but all indications show he won't play the next season in a Blaugrana shirt.

Next: Maxwell

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