Big things were expected of Mattia De Sciglio when he made his Milan debut as a scrawny teenager in 2011.
The versatile full-back showed right away why whispers of his potential were surfacing to the senior side during his Milan youth career, which spanned nearly a decade.
A rossonero through and through, De Sciglio won his place in the lineup last season with defensive performances which eclipsed his teenage years.
His exuberance and adaptability in different positions made him not only a pillar in Massimiliano Allegri's side, but also caught the ear of Italian national team coach Cesare Prandelli, who called him up during this year's Confederations Cup in Brazil.
De Sciglio also showed the ability to play as an emergency central defender. His best performance came against Juventus last season when he was able to effectively shut down Kwadwo Asamoah.
However, he's not only a graceful defender—De Sciglio is good enough with the ball at his feet to venture forward with considerable pace and deliver a quality cross into the box. On paper, he has all the tools to become one of the premier full-backs in world football.
Unfortunately, it has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride for De Sciglio. During the latter portions of last season, it seemed that coach Max Allegri was beginning to prefer Ignazio Abate as a right back and Kevin Constant on the opposite flank.
Neither of those two players possess the technical defensive qualities of De Sciglio. As a matter of fact, both of them started their careers as wingers and were turned into full-backs once they joined the Milanese outfit.
It is possible that Allegri made this change because he feared for his own job and wanted instant success—assuming that he believed De Sciglio was too inexperienced to be a starter in the final stretch of the season.
Recently turning 20, the Italian has been injured this season and has yet to feature in Milan's starting XI. It will be a bit longer before the youngster gets his chance in a defense which conceded 10 goals in the first five matchdays of the season.
Desperate for overhaul at the back, perhaps the real answer to Milan's defensive woes lies on the injury table. As one of Milan's young jewels, De Sciglio deserves a chance to regain his confidence and be allowed to get continuity as a starter.