AC Milan: 5 Players Who Will Surprise This Season in Serie A
As Milan looks to make yet another transition with new coach Filippo Inzaghi, expect plenty of changes to continue occurring when it comes to the starting XI.
New signings and youth players coming up through the ranks will mean that Inzaghi has plenty of options when it comes to fielding a young, dynamic side that can compete in the present and improve for the future.
It's about time that a youth academy that produced some of the most famous players in world football gets back to its successful ways
Here are five players that will surprise plenty this upcoming season in Serie A with Milan
Bryan Cristante featured at the beginning of the 2014 calendar year for Massimiliano Allegri, but failed to see any time from the opening whistle under Clarence Seedorf, who didn't deem Cristante a viable option at the moment for his 4-2-3-1 formation.
Now that the 4-3-3 is back, expect Cristante to get more opportunities. He's a midfielder in the mold of Andrea Pirlo in the sense that he likes to operate in a creative manner right in front of the defensive line.
Apart from his long-range passing ability, Cristante loves to get forward and has a formidable shot from outside the box.
The 19-year-old already has plenty of experience considering his age and will only continue improving with better players around him.
The recently turned 16-year-old is already an internet sensation.
Commercials sponsored by Red Bull with Neymar, intense juggling trickery behind the scenes and plenty more have made him one of the biggest curiosities coming out of Milan's youth setup.
Mastour got some time with the first-team in the North American ICC tournament, but it wasn't enough for him to fully establish himself in a match. A few balls that came his way gave him a brief chance to show his lovely technique and confidence.
The youngster will sit on the bench for stretches of the campaign under Filippo Inzaghi, and could get some time in the occasional Coppa Italia match. It's too important for the club not to rush him into anything as he's still so young and needs much more time to grow.
Don't adjust your glasses, Giampaolo Pazzini belongs on this list for several reasons. Milan's only true No.9 is liked by coach Filippo Inzaghi and could even be used alongside Mario Balotelli at times.
Remember, this is the same striker who scored 15 goals for Milan two seasons ago despite not being a full-time starter. Last year, his campaign was hampered by nagging injuries which kept him from reaching full fitness and his play regressed dramatically.
Now that he's back to being healthy, expect Il Pazzo to become an underrated part of Inzaghi's rotation, offering a very different look up front to the expected starters.
Another teenager on Milan's books, M'Baye Niang has unfortunately made more headlines because of his troubling behavior off the pitch despite being a tidy player on it.
Last season, the Rossoneri felt he needed more playing time and loaned him out to Ligue 1 side Montpellier, where he managed to score four goals in just 13 games while getting some valuable experience.
If you remember, Niang was a starter for Milan two seasons ago but infamously hit the post at the Camp Nou in a Champions League second leg fixture against Barcelona. Had it gone in, Milan would have most likely knocked the Blaugrana out of the Champions League.
Niang likes to operate in a 4-3-3 as a right winger. If Adel Taarabt doesn't sign, expect Niang to become a valuable player for Milan once again.
Stephan El Shaarawy
Two seasons ago Stephan El Shaarawy became a household name in Europe after scoring 14 goals before Christmas and being one of the main reasons why Milan stayed semi-competitive.
Consider the young striker affectionately known as Il Faraone to be a new signing for Milan, in the sense that they didn't really have him last season, and now he's expected to slot into the formation yet again alongside Mario Balotelli.
It also wasn't too long ago that Balotelli and El Shaarawy led the Italian national team's attack, so it'll be a joy to watch now that the chemistry can continue growing with both of them on the field.
In the time he's been given so far in preseason, El Shaarawy has showed his signature pace and his willingness to work hard defensively, which is an attribute of his game that coaches love.