AC Milan continue their preparations for the upcoming Serie A season, having played out a 2-1 loss against Valencia at the Mestalla in Spain.
Goalkeeper Diego Lopez made his debut for the Rossoneri, behind a defense that consisted of Cristian Zapata making his preseason debut, Daniele Bonera and at times, Michelangelo Albertazzi. Of that group, only Zapata should see regular playing time this season.
Jeremy Menez looked lively, while Keisuke Honda had a mixed bag of a performance, scoring a 30-yard free kick while skying a couple of corner kicks.
One player Milan fans did not see was Mattia De Sciglio, the precocious right-back.
Injuries have blighted the career progress of the promising De Sciglio, limiting him to only 16 Serie A and three Champions League appearances last season.
He also missed Italy's victory over England and loss to Costa Rica in the World Cup before returning for the loss to Uruguay.
An injury suffered in the final North American friendly match against Liverpool in Charlotte, N.C., has kept him out of training as the Aug. 31 match against Lazio rapidly approaches.
At 21 years of age, his career remains on an upward spiral. Transfermarkt has his market value estimated at €12 million, indicating that he remains highly viewed in Milan and abroad.
Indeed, Marca has reported that Real Madrid have been keeping tabs on the young Italian fullback. A sale is highly unlikely this summer, and selling one of their few prized young assets would cause an uproar amongst fans.
Despite the optimism surrounding De Sciglio's future, Milan would be wise to ensure they prepare for his absence this coming season.
While it is too soon to call him an injury-prone player, he has missed games for a variety of small injuries, unlike someone like compatriot Stephan El Shaarawy, who essentially missed all of last season with complications stemming from a broken foot.
Fortunately, Milan possess likely the best backup right-back in Italy in Ignazio Abate. Abate's experience with Milan in the Champions League and with the national team would seem adequate were he to be needed more than expected this season.
Of course, Milan currently have far greater issues than worrying about the state of their backup right-back position, with reinforcements needed in midfield and attack, and arguably in defense as well.
Regardless, Milan will eventually need their best talent to perform to expectations if they are to move forward and make progress in domestic competition.
This means that De Sciglio will need to make more than 16 appearances in the league, and that El Shaarawy and Mario Balotelli stay fit and firing on the field.
Given the austerity Milan have been forced to display during the transfer window, the only way this club can move forward is if their own talent develops to supplement the stream of free transfers coming in.
If players like De Sciglio find themselves off the field for injury or loss of form, Milan will be stuck in neutral for yet another season as their fans desperately await progress on the field in terms of results and form.