Milan’s Youth Academy, Where did it go?


RESTORING the youth academy back to a powerhouse should be the key to Milan’s transfer policy.

Milan’s transfer season focus has changed in recent years from signing past their prime superstars and hoping they regain their form, to signing young players who have not yet reached their potential. It’s not a coincedence that Milan’s worst team in years, 2008-2010 came partially because of the flawed system that saw Sheva and Kaka leave and Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, and Huntelaar arrive.

Up until August 2010, Milan fans hoped for at best 2nd place in Serie A, and to avoid another embarrassment in the Champion’s League. Then 2 buys, Zlatman and Robinh, changed the scope of the Milan forecast and gave hope and expectation to Milanisti everywhere.

“Ganso dreams of playing for Milan”
Pato dedicates brace to girlfriend Barbara

Fast forward 9 months. Milan are Champion’s of Italy. Now that the evil to the core Inter have been taken down from their paper throne, the expectation for Milan in 2011-12 is the 8th Champion’s League title. But Milan have holes to fill and the summer of transfers has just begun.

With the acquisitions of Alberto Paloschi, Stephan El Shaarawy, Gianmarco Zigoni, Ignazio Abate and Prince, Milan has showed their transfer outlook has changed. Youth Youth Youth. Their enthusiasm, speed, and willing attitude bring a new competitive spirit to the Milan locker room as well as a positive outlook for the future.

But Milan still need to go back to what made them great during the late 80s and early 90s- The youth academy.

Milan has placed an emphasis on the youth and that is evidenced by the emergences of Strasser and Merkel and well as the promotions of Calvano and Fossatti to the first team. However, the path of many of these youngsters is a loan and co-ownership laced way, with many of them obscured into oblivion. We need more young players to make the jump from the Primavera to the first team with the “help” of Torino, Treviso and Novara. Instead, training with players like Seedorf, Gattuso and Nesta everyday can teach these players things they would never learn in Serie C.

Nurturing players through the youth academy accomplishes 3 things; it builds an foundation that establishes an identity starting from the bottom up, builds a loyalty to the club that purchasing foreigners does not provide (yes as much as I love him, I’m talking about Zlatan), and institutes good financial habits that will come in handy for the new Financial Fair Play Rules that go into effect in 2012.

Barcelona- What do you think of when you hear the name of this city? If you are a fan of football, you don’t think of a booming metropolis in eastern Spain, you think of “tika toka.” In the 2011 Champion’s League starting line-up, 7 of the 11 were groomed in the Barcelona youth academy. Barcelona’s signature passing and possession game does not begin with Pep Guardiola, it begins with the youth coaches when the kids are 12-15 years old. This is the system that Milan should model itself after. Milan can build a new playing strategy that can become the envy of the world, but more importantly, it will win us trophies.

Loyalty is not a quality that can be purchased. It is the glue that holds destiny together. It keeps players from accepting ridiculous offers the rainy, gloomy black hole that is known as Manchester City. Loyalty comes from players understanding the importance of the red and black on their chest. When players put in the hard work to get promoted the first team, they have a deeper appreciation for the club and will not budge when a club offers a few more green pieces of paper.

Paolo Maldini is the greatest defender to ever step on a pitch. He played with Milan for 25 years legendary and unforgettable years. His worth on the market: I won’t even try to come up with a number. The amount Milan paid for him: pennies, if that. The return on investment is just about the transfer budget of Manchester City and Real Madrid over that the last 4 years combined. Now it’s unrealistic to expect many youth players to have the effect that Paolo did, but he does have 2 kids coming through the youth system. The overall return from the youth system will allow the club to save funds that can be spend on top youth talent or into players that can be directly inserted into the first team (Zlatman and Robinh-esque purchases if you will).

Milan’s investment in the youth is starting to pay off. Patience, good coaching and confidence in the youngsters will start a Milan era that will continue to reap benefits far into the future. I dream of a team that would rival the greatest club team of all time. I’m not talking about today’s Barcelona. I’m talking about the invincibili, the Milan of the early 90s. The only way to achieve this is through the youth academy.

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i think ur right but i also think that buyin players will benefit us more nxt season(mezz’ala).


Italian youth simply isn’t good enough… lets admit reality. There are no players like Maldini, Baresi or Costacurta. Times change. We do have Abate… but in reality, we need to get most of our talent from overseas. And until we get reserve leagues like in Spain, I doubt it’ll change.


BTW, one example I do bring up is Thiago Silva… certainly not a youth product of ours. No Italian defender is up to his level.

shoaib rizwan

italian talent is good
every young player has talent
italy can only get back to the glory days if we have better coaches for youth sector and keep the youngsters in serie a
it their teams to get experience from experienced players
can teach the youth


l agree.. a reserve league would be very beneficial for Italian football..all the players who were on the bench n’ never played wld have benefited a lot..Look at England and spain they do have reserve leagues


England isn’t a good example to cite, but Spain is. England’s youth national teams are so horrible. Absolutely terrible. But Spain seems to be winning everything lately.

We still need a reserve league… like AC Milan B playing in the Serie B or C. Like Barcelona B.


You are right however it does benefit to purchase young talent from time to time before they hit their prime such as we did with kaka.

Pete Acquaviva

They’re re-doing the youth right now.

New directors and new coaches. Let them see what happens before you worry too much.


Its erroneous 2 think there r no italian defenders in d class of maldini, baresi or tassotti….- think d young ones don’t get d chance 2 dev. n r nt really allowed 2 build self confidence. Maldini n baresi didn’t become an icon instantly. They played 2geda 4 yrs n were allowed 2 dev. Self-confidence b4 maturing in2 a solid rock n a world class def.


interesting article. hope the management of milan read this.
Gordon, would you please check the time when kaka+sheva left and rivaldo arrived? i don’t think that rivaldo came to milan after the departure of kaka+sheva.


Wat an inspiring aticle hope uncle fester and d rest of d board and player read this.nice one I felt this article dat made me remeber I walk on d street in early 90s with my milan shirt but now its some how but I still believe glory days are are again.Forza MilanB

Andriy Shevchenko

Like first we must improve more our scouting system and invest in youth.Look how Ajax is doing that for years.Second thing we must trust more to our youngsters what isn’t case in Italy now many youngster end up in some low level club.


The problem in Italy is not the lack of talented players, but the lack of playing time in a senior cantext. Calvano, Fossati to take to of our most promising have quality, but they won’t develop if they don’t play, it´s a simple equation. The Italian football federation should wake up, instead of fooling around and blame forgein players they should set up a reserve series like the English has, it would benefit the bench players and the clubs most talented. The idea about starting an U21 team in serie B with players from different clubs is ridiculous, typical idea… Read more »


Exactly, Italy should introduce some system of reserve teams, all other big leagues have them (whether it’s England, Spain, Germany or France) and they are really useful because of the reason fatte mentioned. Lack of reserves means that youngsters have to go on loans and coownerships, which again has negative effect on smaller (Serie B) teams that can’t therefore use their own young talents.


Agreed with this my opinion milan scouts also need to improved..other wise we could only see the youngster that only average playing on our academy..hope maldini can come back sooner so youngster can learn from him and be our next legend at the back line..


one of the best articles i’ve read on this site for a while now.


agreed…the academy needs improvement!! We should never spend ridiculous amount of cash for ‘talented’ players…maybe 30-35m….BUT NO more than that!! Serie A is the only big league left who doesnt spend 50m :\

Yehez Kiel

im afraid inter and juve will ruin that :/


I think a exprienced defender is far better than young.but young players in midfield and forward is useful like sheva and kaka but i think we should use more italian players in our mean is player that play in azuri .and i dont agree with u that silva is beter than italian 2years ago when silva come milan leo put him in line up and he got exprience.if we bought santon and put him in line up he may become like silva .of course silva is very good


free transfers is milans policy wit the occasional small bugdet cheap buy. Lol

Yehez Kiel

just shut up… what happened to that report comment thing so we can remove dumb comments like this!?


Yes I wish we could report stupid comments like this one. He doesn’t know anything. So we should simply pass up on Mexes and Taiwo? What a foolish comment from the ridiculous fool.


It depends at least 50% on the coach weather the youth academy is good or not. Ancelotti didn’t played and didn’t trained them. Allegri does it with the bests. For me, the key moment of the last season is Stasser’s winning goal. That showed that anything can happen; we can win. Max adapted Merkel and Strasser this year. Next year, i hope he does with Paloschi and El Shaaravy, and maybe with the Calvano, Fossati, Ely trio. It’s not true that every primavera player is a potential Maldini. There are better and worse players there. The key is getting the… Read more »


Ladies and gentlemen may I remind you before 1982 our last world cup won was in 1938. The last world cup won before 2006 was in 1982. They’re is always a period of downfall after winning something big which is typically Italian. Calm down, we are going to win the champs league next year I can feel it stronger than before I felt the 2006 triumph. Have faith, winning squads is about TEAM-CHEMISTRY. <3 FORZAAAAAAAAA


Barcelona started their youth project just recently and IMO, every team have their own era. Do you think we can’t go back to our gold era like in the late 80’s and early 90’s? I don’t think so, we can be like that again or even much greater than it was, lets be patient…


Get youngsters from 10 upwards and develop them in milan junior academy and let’s see how they turn out in A̶̲̥̅ few yrs time.Our scouts are poor since Leonardo left that role.


There are talents other club scouts discover in their prime before they get known worldwide and very cheap @ dat.


Ancelloti was a coach that didn’t believe in the youth academy that much. He hardly plays young players except for exceptionally good ones like kaka, pato. Paloschi made his debut after some players were out due to injuries, and he scored a vital goal. What happened afterwards, he was loaned out. That’s why we’ve been struggling because these old players have a limit they can go. We need to rejuvenate the youth academy and infuse with some foreign talents.


Milan have several talented youth players at the moment, watch out for the likes of Simone Calvano, Marco Fossati and Mattia Valoti in this summer pre-season. Gianmarco Comi might also get a shot, since he also joined the current pre-season training.


youth development is important but you are making it sound like the end all answer to all the problems, which is a bit extreme to say the least. you mention youth products like maldini and baresi but you must understand that for every maldini and baresi there were 50 guys that weren’t cut out. only @Giancarlo has made the point that whereas the club and coach must care about the youth academy, the success of the youth academy is limited by the crop of players available. we can’t grab random 10 year old and make them legends. and you reference… Read more »

Frank Tigani

Great article Tony. I fully agree with your point of view too. Youth is so important that if developed properly makes so much sense both financially and on the field. Barcelona are a great example of why it is better to develop your players young, instill in them the philosophy of the club from a young age and build up their loyalty to the club’s badge. But most important of all, if Milan start to again produce players in this way than the player have the chance to perfect the playing style of the club and we all know that… Read more »