5 Youngsters in AC Milan's System Ready to Explode
Adriano Galliani told Milan Channel that the team would be putting more trust into their youth, developing from within as they know that they cannot compete with some of Europe's most lavish spenders.
While this seemed to be the case, a different pattern has seemingly taken place at Milan, as Alessandro Matri and Kaka were the two main summer acquisitions. Both players are hardly youngsters anymore, the Brazilian in his early 30s while Matri is fading out of his prime.
Despite the strange move to a more veteran-led team, there are still a few youngsters who are considered some of the finest young talents in world football. Here are the main candidates...
Mattia De Sciglio
The 21-year-old defender has already made 30-appearances with the club in Serie A and more than a handful as a starter on the Italian national team.
De Sciglio is a versatile defender who is deployed as a left-back but can play on the opposite flank and even filled in as an emergency central defender a few times last season.
His defensive anticipation is well beyond his years, and he is also adept at going forward where he's a fine crosser of the ball and has the technique and pace to take on defenders.
While De Sciglio has struggled with injuries this season, he's finally regaining full fitness and will undoubtedly be a major part of Milan's revival.
The youngster needs appearances to show Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli that he deserves a ticket to Brazil next summer.
The Italian trequartista was purchased from Empoli last January but was only brought to the team this summer, where an injury didn't allow him to integrate himself fully with the club.
He has only appeared in two matches this season for Milan and might be loaned out in the upcoming winter transfer session to get more steady playing time.
Saponara has the skill, as he showed during the Italian U21 tournament this year. He helped lead the Azzurrini to the final where they ultimately lost to Spain.
Saponara is a long wiry athlete who possesses traits that resemble a young Kaka. His long strides give him deceptive speed. Ricky also has good vision and is a fine finisher of the ball around the opponent's penalty box.
Stephan El Shaarawy
The Milan youngster known as Il Faraone has had a tumultuous start to his Milan career. Billed as a prodigy due to his stellar performances as a teenager, El Shaarawy has been a shadow of himself this calendar year.
After scoring at will in the first half of last season, the striker was seemingly burnt out at the rigorous demands from Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri, who demands plenty of defensive work from his wingers.
El Shaarawy has battled injury problems and inconsistent playing time this year, losing his starting spot on the Italian national team and failing to get back in the mix this season due to muscular woes.
Once he gets back to full fitness, expect El Shaarawy to become a regular fixture in the starting XI once again.
The 21-year-old back-up goalkeeper was forced into action this season after the injury bug took Christian Abbiati out of the starting lineup.
The Brazilian performed well, showing a few examples of his great reflexes and stating his case to be considered a possible replacement for Abbiati when the veteran hangs up his gloves.
While Gabriel is still very raw, he will only continue to grow and could become a serious contender for the starting goalkeeper position next year.
Bryan Cristante is perhaps Milan's most prized young possession. It's incredible to think that he has made the first-team squad at only 18 years old and has been heavily touted by both Adriano Galliani and Silvio Berlusconi.
Galliani compared him to Fernando Redondo on the television show La Domenica Sportiva, which airs on the Italian channel RAI SPORT.
Cristante is a deep-lying playmaker who likes to operate in front of the defence.
While a few preseason games over the summer showed that some of his decision-making is still suspect, he performed at a level good enough level to be kept on the first squad and hopefully get some action in the Coppa Italia.