Milan (AFP) – AC Milan’s first league title since 2011 came despite having what many considered a weaker squad than local rivals Inter Milan, but a group of young guns and old heads have come together to create a cohesive unit which has punched above its weight.

Here AFP looks at the key players in a memorable charge to glory:

Olivier Giroud

Brought in last summer ostensibly as back up to talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Giroud has become a fixture in the Milan team as the superstar Swede’s body has finally given in to age.

The France forward may have only netted a relatively modest total of 11 in his debut Serie A season but the significance of some of those goals has been huge in Scudetto success.

His double won the season’s second Milan derby and led to a crash in Inter’s form in February which in the end pushed the title across town.

He also bagged the only goal at Napoli in early March to hand the seven-time European champions top spot, a position they then never relinquished.

Rafael Leao

Leao is the second Milan player to get into double figures for league goals this season, his 11 strikes from the wing a sign of the Portugal international’s development this campaign.

A devastating presence on the left flank in tandem with France full-back Theo Hernandez, Leao’s pace and close dribbling has often made mincemeat of Serie A defences this season, leading to seven (CHECK) assists to go with a decent goal tally.

Sandro Tonali

Boyhood Milan fan Tonali has come of age this season, becoming the all-round midfielder the Rossoneri hoped he would be when they signed him on loan from Brescia in September 2020.

Tonali took a pay cut last summer in order to make his move permanent after a poor first season at the San Siro and has blossomed this campaign.

Compared to Andrea Pirlo while still at Brescia, Tonali has said that he sees himself more like another 2006 World winner — Gennaro Gattuso.

The 22-year-old has developed into a more bustling midfield presence and added goals to his game — a last-minute winner at Lazio and last weekend’s brace at Verona both crucial to Milan securing their 19th league crown.

Mike Maignan

Filling the shoes of newly-crowned European champion Gianluigi Donnarumma would be a tough ask for almost any goalkeeper but Maignan is another Frenchman who has stepped up when it mattered.

The 26-year-old has been superb between the sticks, making some huge saves in the matches which have pushed the title Milan’s way, in particular in the February derby win which turned the title race on its head.

He even set up Leao’s winner against Sampdoria the following week, showing that he also has the distribution needed of modern keepers.

Fikayo Tomori

Simon Kjaer’s season-ending knee injury was a huge blow for Milan but in the Denmark captain’s absence Tomori has taken charge of the back line and struck up an impressive partnership with French youngster Pierre Kalulu.

Since Kjaer collapsed early in a 3-0 win at Genoa in early December, Milan have conceded just 13 times in Serie A, the league’s lowest tally in that period, and Tomori’s displays at the heart of the Milan defence have made him a firm fan favourite.