AC Milan – The Fountain Of Youth
“All good things come to an end” and so it has as Milan bid farewell to their captain Ambrosini who was the only surviving member of the Champions league winning team of 2007. It is indeed an end of an era for the Rossoneri as the club has now decided to concentrate on youth and start a new cycle.
The last 2-3 seasons have been heart wrenching for Milan as each season ends with one of their veterans leaving for “other challenges” or retiring. Last season, There were moving scenes at the San Siro where the atmosphere of the crowd, and the rare tears from the players hit the fans hard as some succumbed to their emotions for their honorable servants.
Throughout recent history Milan have always valued experience and this has been the reason for their dominance in Europe. Between 1989 and 1995, Milan appeared in five European Cup finals. Between 2003 and 2007, there would be three more.
With the new project in full motion, lets check out some hot prospects, the players who will carry the legacy forward.
The 18-year-old has immense talent and On 4 March 2013, Milan Cristante signed his first professional contract, which will keep him at Milan until 2018 after progressing through the ranks at the Serie A giants.
Cristante made his first-team debut for Milan as a substitute for Brazil star Robinho in the Champions League tie against Viktoria Plzen in the Czech Republic in December 2011. He also became the youngest player to feature in the Champions League for Milan at the age of 16 years and 278 days and the third youngest over all.
Cristante is no stranger to winning titles with the Rossoneri, despite his tender years. He scored eight times in the Under-15 squad win the Campionato Giovanissimi Nazionali in 2010 and followed that up with the Campionato Allievi Nazionali title a year later.
The midfielder possesses tremendous technique and strength and is known for his passing ability which has impressed Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri and his backroom staff.
Cristante works best in the midfield channels and has played in front of the defence before too. His ability from set pieces is also an asset. His skills best align with that of a deep-lying playmaker and bringing along a player with his potential and skill set could give Milan another dimension off the bench that they didn’t really have last season.
Another promising youngster, Petagna too like Cristante signed a contract with Milan and is loaned out to Sampdoria for the rest of the season.
Petagna is not a complete virgin to First team action, having made an appearance on 4 December 2012 in the Champions League group stage home game against Zenit St.Petersburg which Milan lost 0–1.
Not only is he physically well built, he also possesses excellent technical skills. Quite like his idols Ibrahimovic and Balotelli, both of who, he fortunately had a chance to train with.
Son of a former Milan player, Maurizio Ganz, Simone has a good eye for goal, movement, control and also possesses a strong right foot.
He made his professional debut with the first team on 1 November 2011, coming on as a substitute for Robinho in a UEFA Champions League group stage match against BATE Borisov, which ended in a 1–1 draw.
For the 2013–14 season, he is loaned out to Prima Divisione club Lumezzane.
Not related to Prince Boateng, this Ghanian starlet has loads of porential and we saw a glimpse of it in the Audi cup. He scored the winner against Sao paolo for the 3rd place play off.
Italian football pundits tipped the youngster to shine but a nagging knee injury ruled him out of Milan’s Primavera side for most part of the season. He is physically strong and has good ball control, a certain prospect for the future.
This 19 year old Centre back seems to have a sensible brain on him and has a good sense of positioning. He was called up by allegri for the audi cup with injuries to regular Centre backs and he was impressive. Pacifico managed to perform well, especially against Sao Paulo in the 1-0 win.
He showed his defending intelligence and impressed the Milan coaching staff. He certainly has a good future especially after seeing his performances in the Audi cup.
One of the youngest in the Primavera squad, this 17 year old defender has immense talent. His preferred position is in the centre but can play on the left too. He has already represented Italy in the U 17 and U 18 and has been called up for the U19 squad too. His speed, positioning sense makes him a good prospect for the future.
A Barcelona youth product, Carmona moved to the Milan youth system in 2010 and has been a hot prospect too. A left footer attacking midfielfer can play as a left winger too. He was loaned to Zaragoza for the second half of the last season and made 3 appearances. His versatility and quick feet have caught the eye of many.
Carmona is currently on loan to Girona FC. He has represented spain in Fifa U 17 world cup and UEFA European under 17 football championship.
The kid every one is raving about. “The Moroccan Messi”. The AC Milan wonderkid has skill, pace and vision and has been compared with Lionel Messi and he is only 15. On his debut for AC Milan under 15s Hachim Mastour scored a wonder goal giving the world a glimpse of what is to come. YouTube has exploded with videos of Hachim Mastour and many have been impressed with his talent at such a young age.
Mastour may not be ready for Serie A yet, but he is a very special player so don’t be surprised to see him there in the coming seasons.
The player every single Milanista wants to see in the famous red and black. The son of Paolo Maldini and the grand son of Cesare Maldini. His grandfather Cesare was one of the best defenders in the world during his time and so was his father. Milan are waiting for the little starlet to grow and take over from where his father had left off. The Milan fans rate young Christian Maldini very highly and are hoping that one day he might be ready to carry the sacred “Number 3” jersey of the Rossoneri which his father and grandfather immortalized.
Like his father and grandfather, he is a defender. But will he be able to eclipse or even match his father’s career? Not only has the game changed since 1985, so has the youth system, and finding a spot in the senior team is much more difficult. Lets not burden him with heavy expectations but its hard not have any especially when the name on the back of the jersey says, “Maldini”.
We saw a glimpse of this left footed defender in the Audi cup and seems like a good prospect. His preferred position is left back and seems like he has a good matured head on his shoulders. He is a regular for the Primavera side, this kid can be a regular for the first team too if he continues his current progress.
It has been a while since Milan has put so much faith in such young players. The change of faith has been signified by new signings of younger players within the academy and the employment of former Milanese legends as youth coaches.
The promise of several players within the Milan youth sector is exciting for the future and could see Milan replicate the likes of Barcelona, who have created a world class team based around the players from their own academy.
With the likes of Balotelli, De Sciglio and El Shaarawy in the ranks, Milan are heading in the right direction. My friend, Twister, during such testing times consoles me by saying, “it may take some kind of sacrifice and you(Milan fans) may struggle to see the light but the youngesters will come through and will see Milan return to the world class team it once was. Soon. VERY SOON.
He will perhaps receive the greatest adulation because it was his goals and his furious commitment to the cause that drew him into the fans’ hearts. But once it is over, the reality of trying to find players to fill the gaps being left will continue as Milan look to recapture the league title that has been out of their reach in the recent past.
Whether Milan can replace such greats remains to be seen, but while they have Adriano Galliani in their corner this summer’s transfer window will definitely be an interesting one.