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11.07.2007 11:49

Marshalling the back line

Jordi Clos

Gabriel Milito was the missing piece in the Barša defensive jigsaw and the announcement of an agreement to sign him from Real Zaragoza takes the Catalan club's total number of summer signings to four.

Following the arrival of ╚ric Abidal from Lyon, FC Barcelona have strengthened their rearguard by capturing Gabi Milito. The Argentinian international, known as 'The Marshall', has all the qualities that the Blaugrana were looking for. He is authorative, strong in the tackle and has good positional sense that enables him to help build attacks from the back. Despite being only 1.79m tall, one of Milito's main strengths is his ability in the air, both at the back and in converting set pieces up front.

Injury blow

Gabriel Milito was born in Bernal (Buenos Aires) on September 7, 1980. After rising through the ranks at Independiente, he made his first-team debut for the club aged 17. Even though he was still very young, he was a key member of the Avellanda club's back line and was always predicted to have a very bright future in front him. A serious injury in March, 2001 put his career on hold, however as he damaged ligaments in his right knee and was ruled out of action for around nine months. Soon after returning from that blow, Milito then suffered an injury to his meniscus and was sidelined for a further four months.

Back to his best

After overcoming the two knee injuries, Milito became one of the stars of the Apertura in 2002 as Independiente won the title. That season he was chosen as the Argentinian Player of the Year. Then, a year later, he opted to try his luck in Europe and moved to Spain.

Madrid miss out

Real Madrid appeared to have won the race for his signature, but just before he was due to sign a contract the medical services of the club called off the move as they believed that he had not properly recovered from the two knee injuries. Real Zaragoza found no such problems and signed him. Revenge was quickly delivered as Milito helped the Aragˇn-based outfit to win the Copa del Rey by beating Madrid in the final on Montju´c. By the time that Zaragoza won the Spanish Super Cup, Milito was considered to be one of the best defender in la Primera. His performances throughout his four years with Zaragoza have always been exceptional.

Brothers in arms

For the past two seasons, Gabi Milito has played in the same team as his brother, Diego, at la Romareda. The Militos have been two of the main stars of the side as the team claimed a place in the UEFA Cup at the end of last season. The duo became strong favourites at Zaragoza, With Gabi strong at the back and Diego hitting the goals in at the other end.

Career stats

1997/98 Independiente 2 0
1998/99 Independiente 25 0
1999/00 Independiente 34 1
2000/01 Independiente 25 1
2001/02 Independiente 3 0
2002/03 Independiente 34 0
2003/04 Zaragoza 35 0
2004/05 Zaragoza 35 3
2005/06 Zaragoza 34 1
2006/07 Zaragoza 35 1
Marshalling the back line

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