AC Milan Must Resist the Temptation to Cash in on Their Young Stars

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AC Milan Must Resist the Temptation to Cash in on Their Young Stars
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Friday's defeat at Roma ended a five-match winning streak for Milan, providing a reality check to the Rossoneri in the sense that they are still not capable of competing with Italy's top sides at present. 

A match that will be remembered for Miralem Pjanic's beautiful solo goal and Mario Balotelli's post-game outburst highlighted the divide between Milan and Roma right now. The fact of the matter is that Roma are by far the superior team. 

Perhaps sensing this, manager Clarence Seedorf opted for another somewhat experimental line-up, giving starts to Sulley Muntari and Kevin Constant.

While Seedorf's decisions over the past month or so have led to an undeniably impressive run of form, it remains confusing that Seedorf is reluctant to give some of his younger players time on the pitch.

It is unknown whether qualification for the Europa League will allow Seedorf to continue as manager next season, but the fact remains that Europe or not, Milan owe it to themselves and Seedorf to allow him an offseason to prepare the team in a manner he deems necessary for the Rossoneri to compete next year.

However, pressure may be rising to secure one of the top six spots in Serie A that will allow Milan a chance to compete in Europe next season. The merits of the Europa League have been debated by many, yet regardless of whether one feels it is beneficial to the team or not, it is hard to justify leaving players like Mattia De Sciglio, Ignazio Abate and Andrea Poli out on a regular basis, especially when players like Bonera and Muntari are the ones being started over them.

Recent rumors have suggested interest in De Sciglio from the likes of Real Madrid and Arsenal. A sale of arguably the brightest young talent Milan currently employ would be another terrible move in the transfer market from a team that has dug themselves a large hole with their mismanagement during recent transfer windows.

CEO Adriano Galliani has spoken of Milan's desire to revamp their youth system in order to become competitive in coming years, yet he has made some truly head-scratching moves that run contrary to this approach.

The signings of Alessandro Matri and Michael Essien have been extremely ineffective, not only in terms of producing results, but also because they have stopped some of Milan's youth players from getting playing time. Failure to offload Robinho last summer also hamstrung the team's ability to invest in younger talent. 

In the case of De Sciglio, whose transfer value is €12 million (according to transfermarkt.com), it is easy to see why Milan would consider selling—at least from a purely economic point of view. Simply put, he is one of Milan's most valuable and desirable assets on the open market and would likely fetch a good return.

Of course, the money received from selling a player like De Sciglio would theoretically be reinvested in multiple players, yet there is no guarantee those signings would be a success. The on-field benefits of potentially developing the next great Italian right-back would far outweigh the potential immediate economic benefits from selling him off.

From a fan's perspective, it is a stinging feeling watching Bonera play week in and week out while De Sciglio and Abate sit on the bench. Other young players like Stephan El Shaarawy and Bryan Cristante will hopefully be given playing time once they are fully recovered from their respective injuries. 

At this delicate juncture in Milan's history, the Rossoneri would do well to learn the lessons of past failed transfer dealings. Keeping their young talent and reducing the squad size would do wonders for the team's development as they look to realistically rebuild to a point where contention for the Serie A title is reasonable. 

Right now, 39 points behind leaders Juventus and 34 points behind Roma, they are very far off. Regardless, they could learn a lesson from teams like Roma—invest smartly and find the right manager, and anything is possible.

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