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Chelsea loan star: Former Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong my inspiration

Chelsea-owned Marco van Ginkel revealed his reverence for Nigel de Jong, Fernando Torres and Michael Essien after making a breakthrough for Milan at the weekend.

After a difficult start to life in Italy, Chelsea loanee Marco van Ginkel at last appears to have turned things around at AC Milan.

The Dutchman had played just 33 minutes of Serie A football heading into last weekend, mired on the bench without the confidence of head coach Pippo Inzaghi.

It was a worrying situation. Following an extended injury spell during his first term at Chelsea, sitting on the bench for the Rossoneri wasn’t helping his development.

Rumours that the 22-year-old would swiftly bring an end to his loan spell at San Siro in January were rife, though his agent maintained he would stay and fight for his place.

The battling mentality put forward seems to have paid off. Van Ginkel finally got into the starting eleven for Milan’s clash with Udinese on Sunday, impressing in a 2-0 win.

Starting alongside ex-Chelsea stalwart Michael Essien in midfield, van Ginkel clocked 89 minutes on the pitch, contributing a 95% pass completion rate and three tackles.

He told Milan Channel of his display: “I was happy with my performance. It was a bit frustrating when I wasn’t playing. My team-mates complimented me after Sunday, it was good for my confidence.

While Essien played alongside van Ginkel on the day – sent off for a second bookable offence on 71 minutes – two familiar faces in Nigel de Jong and Fernando Torres were missing.

Van Ginkel’s fellow Dutchman – linked with a cut-price January move to Manchester United – is currently recovering from injury, while Chelsea-owned Torres was on the bench.

The 22-year-old had high praise his countryman, a favourite of Louis van Gaal, in speaking to Milan Channel, also paying tribute to his two team-mates with Stamford Bridge roots.

“De Jong is an inspiration for me. It’s wonderful to play with him. Torres and Essien are also great role models, I’ve seen them on TV and now I’m playing with them.”

The mission of van Ginkel’s loan at Milan was to learn and grow while getting top-flight minutes under his belt, a process that at last looks under way.

A player of de Jong and Essien’s stature is exactly what Chelsea want to see van Ginkel become, and maintaining consistency at Milan will be key to his progress.

The Dutchman at last seems to be making inroads under Inzaghi, who he gave plenty of reasons to keep putting him in the starting eleven with his display against Udinese.

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