Italian shins rejoice: Mark van Bommel leaves Milan, rejoins PSV Eindhoven

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Expect the Italian Serie A to be a much faster league next season, with the league attackers now free to discarded the extra shin guards they adorned after Mark van Bommel’s January 2011 arrival.

The former PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona and Bayern Munich hard man has left Milan to rejoin PSV. Though van Bommel foretold of the move this weekend, the club officially confirmed his one-year deal on Monday.

In his year-and-a-half with the Rossoneri, the 35-year-old made 39 league appearances and collected a scudetto, the 12th major medal of his club career. That’s one more league title than goal, but van Bommel wasn’t brought from München to bend the net. His presence at the base of midfield can be seen as one of the main reasons Antonio Nocerino was able to venture forward for 10 league goals.

That presence was a surprisingly tame one. Van Bommel may be known for his (how to put this euphemistically) judicious play at the edge of the rules, but not this season. In 2011-12, van Bommel averaged only 1.5 fouls per game, placing him 69th in Serie A.

And only six yellows and no reds? It’s like seeing Superman fall from the sky.

PSV failed to qualify for 2012-13’s UEFA Champions League, so this is clearly a step back for van Bommel, perhaps a signal his playing days are winding down. Van Bommel, however, doesn’t seem to see it that way, instead intimating his departure was part of a larger rebuilding project with at Milan.

“I was only here a year and a half so for me it’s easier to say goodbye than players like (Gennaro) Gattuso, (Alessandro) Nesta and (Pippo) Inzaghi.

“That’s the way life is – the time comes when you have to leave. When I arrived here, everyone told me this club is like a family and it’s true, it is.

“I will go back to Holland and I will play for PSV. Maybe one day I’ll return here (Milan) as a coach.”

Those coaching chops might be honed over the next 12 months, mentoring the likes of Kevin Strootman in Eindhoven.

But before reporting to his new job, van Bommel will be with his national team for what is likely to be his final European Championships.