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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

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Maldini talks up Montolivo impact

AC Milan legend Paolo Maldini admits he has been surprised by how Riccardo Montolivo has caught the eye in the Rossoneri midfield.

• Blog: No time for Euro hangover

Montolivo, an Italy international, joined the club from Fiorentina last summer and has become one of the fixtures of the first-team under Massimiliano Allegri.

A key component of the club's midweek success over Barcelona in the Champions League as Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari both struck in the second half at the San Siro to give the Serie A outfit a 2-0 victory, the midfielder has come on leaps and bounds, which has not gone unnoticed.

"Montolivo has really surprised me," Maldini told the Gazzetta dello Sport. "He's been consistent, he has quality and he's proved that he can adapt to a number of different roles.

"He's a decisive player, one who can fill the hole that was left when Andrea Pirlo moved on. He has physical strength, he wins back the ball, he has vision - he's got it all."

Montolivo, 28, is not the only one who has caught the eye though and Maldini highlighted the surprise progress of Guinea international defender Kevin Constant as another feather in Allegri's cap.

The midfielder, who has been converted to a full-back this season, joined the club on an initial loan but was signed permanent in January.

Despite changing positions, he has impressed this season and Maldini added: "He's quick, he has good technique and has personality."

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