Theo Hernandez performed admirably as a centre-back in AC Milan‘s 3-0 victory against Empoli on Sunday. The Frenchman was also named our 2023/24 Serie A Player of the Week for Matchday 19.
With Fiorentina suffering a defeat away to Sassuolo, the Rossoneri comfortably sit in third place in the Serie A table and in the Champions League spots.
Theo Hernandez was assured in defending and still made the odd run forward
Although he has developed a reputation for being an excellent attacking left-back, Theo has been thrown into a more central role due to the recent injury crisis at AC Milan.
With Malick Thiaw, Pierre Kalulu, Marco Pellegrino, Mattia Caldara, and Fikayo Tomori on the sidelines, Rossoneri coach Stefano Pioli has turned the 26-year-old into a centre-back out of necessity. Given his propensity to join the attack, the Frenchman has surprisingly excelled in the middle of the defence.
The Rossoneri defender often got his positioning right and did not feel the need to commit any rash challenges. He made three blocks for the match against Empoli: one of them was a routine block on a Nicolo Cambiaghi effort and he made a more desperate one on a Francesco Caputo shot.
When some of those players return from injury, it would make sense for Theo to return to his preferred left-back role. However, his displays at centre-back are signs of maturity from the AC Milan defender.
Theo Hernandez forms AC Milan spine with French compatriots
The current AC Milan squad is filled with players from different parts of the globe, but it is fair to say that the French contingent in team has been valuable.
Mike Maignan has been an excellent goalkeeper since his arrival, Theo has impressed at centre-back, Olivier Giroud offers great experience in attack, and Yacine Adli is slowly settling into the Rossoneri midfield.
In addition to the left-back starring in a new role against Empoli, Maignan kept another clean sheet, Giroud thumped his penalty into the net to double the lead for the Rossoneri, and Adli had a passing completion rate of 95%.
Aside from Adli, the rest of those Frenchman feature regularly in the France Men’s National Team, so they have experience in big games. Although the Tuscans were not the hardest of opponents, having players develop a mutual understanding can improve the team and the French contingent have been influential in this Rossoneri side.