Time for Milan to trust their youngsters (by Paul Ng)



With Milan in free-fall, it is time for head coach Allegri to put his faith in the talented youngsters at his disposal.

The 2013-14 season has been one big major mess for Milan up to this point. 12 league games into the season, they are languishing down in 10th spot with only 13 points. They are 19 points off league leaders Roma, but more importantly they are 15 points off the last Champions League spot. For this current version of Milan, vying for the league championship is now being replaced by a more pragmatic aim of securing a Champions League spot. Milan’s problems are identical to what they experienced last season. A poor start, a host of injuries and a lack of adequate defensive backups were all carried over from last season.

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At this stage last season, Milan had 14 points after 12 games. The difference for Milan back then was the unexpected breakout of Stephan El Shaarawy. With his goals, El Shaarawy single-handedly dragged Milan to within a few points off the Champions League spot by Christmas. By the midway point of the season, El Shaarawy’s form started to decline. Mario Balotelli’s arrival during the winter transfer window coincided with this drop in production. Nonetheless, Balotelli’s qualities helped maintain Milan’s momentum. Ultimately, they would just about pip Fiorentina to the final Champions League spot.

Continuing into this season, the squad for 2013-14 features 4 youngsters of real potential—Riccardo Saponara (age 21), Gabriel (21), M’Baye Niang (18) and Bryan Cristante (age 18). Gabriel is a goalkeeper who has represented Brazil at senior level. Niang is a forward who can play on either wings. Saponara is an attacking midfielder and has been compared to Kaka in terms of movement on the pitch. Cristante is a defensive midfielder and his style of play has earned comparisons to Argentine legend Fernando Redondo.

Another youngster, striker Andrea Petagna (age 18) could have added to the list of promising young players at Milan. Allegri had initially placed his faith in Petagna as the backup to Balotelli and Pazzini. However, the transfer of Alessandro Matri meant that there was one striker too many for Milan. In the end, Petagna was loaned to Sampdoria for the season. The fans dissatisfaction with the Matri transfer is based on three factors. Firstly, Milan already have three center-forwards in Balotelli, the currently injured Giampaolo Pazzini, and Petagna. Secondly, the fans want the club to put their faith in Petagna and signing Matri goes against the youth policy. Lastly, the price tag of €11m for Matri is too high for effectively a backup striker.

The focus for Milan ever since the Great Wage Cut of 2012 was on bringing through talented youngsters. In 2012-13, Mattia De Sciglio and Stephan El Shaarawy grasped the opportunity given to them and cemented their place in the first team.

This season, with the hope of qualifying for next season Champions League seemingly thin, the season could have been better utilized by offering the youngsters playing time and integrating them into the first team. It is perhaps time to give Cristante, Niang, Saponara and Gabriel the chance to show what they can contribute to the team. A discouraging fact is that Cristante has only played in a total of 5 competitive minutes this season, despite being in the match squad for 13 of the matches so far.

Milan’s present situation looks bleak, yet the promise shown by the young players are a source of hope. De Sciglio, El Shaarawy and Balotelli have already established themselves as key members of the first team squad. And they are all below 24 years old. Add in the potential of Saponara, Gabriel, Niang plus Cristante and Milan will have a core group of players for hopefully the next 5-10 years. The time for change is now, and hopefully Allegri’s parting gift for Milan is the integration of these talented young players into the first team.

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I do not agree with most of what you have written down. For starters, Petagna is still very very RAW. This is not Fifa manager mode my friend, he cannot be the back up striker for a club having serious ambitions. Do you remember Beretta? Can you tell me where he is? Most of these players are talented no doubt, but they are extremely raw. SeS had such a breakout season because he played 29 games for Padova in Serie B (i.e. he didn’t come straight from the academy). I have high hopes for Saponara, but not the rest. They… Read more »

isaac ayala

I agree with what you said about Petagna being raw. But hang on a minute, who said that was bad? Petagna scored his first goal for Milan in a friendly 3 minutes into the game, and then added another against Manchester City. Anyone who watched Milans preseason would know of his motivation, talent. He is certainly better than Matri in the aspect of price, age, and quality (Yes, quality). What a brainless decision to loan him out to get Matri.


Its what every Milan fan knows but BG and Allegri are not really taking any responsibilty. Firstly Galliani should have told Allegri that we don’t need another striker, Braida should never have contacted Juve (not his fault), Berlusconi gave the few millions we have to a hopeless signing and Allegri wanted him in the first place. I’d choose Pazzini over Matri anyday, 15 goals in Serie A last season and was a back up for the majority of the season. Petagna performed well in Milan’s 5-3 loss vs City, scoring and combining very well with El Sha, so I didn’t… Read more »


If Allegri leaves, we hopefully won’t have to worry about our young players being burnt out by playing too much.
All we know is, as it is, they aren’t playing enough.
Minus SeS, Balo (if you even count him as young anymore. I don’t think you should given his experience), and niang.
I wish I could’ve seen Petagna play a bit more before being loaned, but I do agree a loan was necessary. I also wish we would’ve kept Salamon, but that’s just me.


Good Article. It doesn’t look like we are going to make the Champions League so we might as well give the opportunity to the youngsters mentioned in this article. This idea that players need to be loaned out to mature is a relic. Football has changed and it has become faster. Saponara, Niang, Petagna, and Cristante are all good enough for Milan. The problem is one Mr. Allegri. We need to bring the average age even lower. What we have been lacking for a while is pace in our squad. I remember the days of Sheva and Serginho and then… Read more »


Ummmm you thinkkk -__-

Forza Milan ^_^

Rumour says that milan want to trade el shaarawy for sneijer, I sat Nooooo! We have youngsters for the midfield like cristante!!! What about the youth policy -_-


I agree with this article, however, Niang and Cristante are only 18 years old, there’s no need to rush them in their development, however they should be given playing time whenever needed. I think it’s more essential to play Saponara and Gabriel. The thing is, we might part ways with Nocerino in january, and I’m all for it, but I doubt it will open up space for Cristante, it wouldn’t surprise me if we got Kucka or Lodi, or someone in that calibre, although Kucka is an upgrade to Noce, I would still like to see the exit of the… Read more »


Ses for sneijer? Any management that does that is blind.


Max often rely on certain players that ve failed him.everybody knows milam younsters need to b given more time to play except Allegy


Yes petagna has no experience, but is it really a bad thing to rely on him as a backup until pazzini gets healthy? It’s not like we spent 5 mil on a decent backup, we spent 12 mil!!! Think of it like this, even if we were in the same league table position without matri we would have accomplished two things we haven’t accopmplished now. 1. Petagna would have valuable experience and (who knows he could have done great) 2. We would have saved 12 mil we could have used for a world class player in January. Youth is the… Read more »


I think in general the reason why our youngsters didn’t get much chances this season is because of our poor results. It’s really sad to see them sitting on the bench but you can’t just integrate youngsters into the team during these times because you could ruin them psychologically, so it’s like a gamble that could payoff, but could also not. I mean they should still be given a chance at some point of the season, but we shouldn’t rush them into the starting line-up. I’m OK with the idea of loaning some of them out in January (not Saponara… Read more »

If they sell any of El Shaarawy,Mario,De Sciglio,Saponara and Cristante(loans) to raise nonsense funds for stupid reinforcements,then they must be blind and have buried Milan,these players should be absolutely untouchable,they must be Milan legends,i think when we start winning games we should start giving them more playing time because we need experience to come back,El Shaarawy to be used to get Sneidjer is the most stupid advice,whats the plan for Youth Policy?,2016 UCL finals is at Sansiro,these guys must be there.In january we must offload-Bonera,Zaccardo,Zapata,Constant,Silvester,Nocerino,Robinho,Birsa,Muntari and Matri,we need 2 more Center backs to support Rami and Mexes,i suggest we get… Read more »

Ross Oneri

Cristante is the only 18 year old I have seen that I can say he definately needs playing time and can be a starter given our coach was smarter.


for me i would’t like them to sell any of those boys


Vd Wiel for Abate would be wonderful Vd Wiel is onfire this season

Mohammed Jibran

“Milan could decide to build a new stadium in the Expo 2015 area, despite the €60m spent on improving San Siro for the 2016 CL final”. –


Galiani could be paid off as early as december this year.


Revolution in 2014!!
Galliani will out from football forever and go with mr. B to the politic!!
Barbara will take in charge with new vision and new bussiness tactic, AC Milan will have a new stadium what we miss for a decade!!
I will support you Barbara, if necessary, bring back pato to the san siro and shoot all alegry key player including abbiati,bonera,muntari,matri, robinho,etc.
And how about alegry?… LOL 100% will kick out from san siro by Barbara..
Forza Milan
Forza Barbara
Forza New Era


I agree.now time for change in milan .alegri has to go way.but milan need to old player(montolivo,kaka,deyong)


Mexes to renew and spread wages.

Zaccardo, Vergara(loan), Silvestre/Bonera and Zapata may be replaced with Astori and Kaboul in Jan.

Milan CBs to become: Mexes, Rami, Astori, Kaboul, Bonera

Constant/Urby with Murru/Santon. Abate to renew.

Nocerino could head to Napoli.


Are these just rumours you want to be true/that you made up, haha, or actual rumours that you’ve really read somewhere?
I think it’s more likely that we let go of Silvestre than Bonera, and I would prefer it as well, Bonera is a good back-up player.
If we would sign Murru and let Constant go, that would be fantastic, Murru has a bright future ahead of him.
Noce is free to leave, hopefully it will open up space for Cristante/Saponara!


nope, didnt make them. All according to sites or papers


@milanetto, one could hope all of that goes through. I still think we need another world class midfielder to replace muntari. Once we have a new coach we will be competitive with reinforcements

I will be happy if Galliani leaves before january,Barbara must convince her father to bring out enough money in january and with a new director we will make a good re-inforcement in january,if Silvio can bring out 60m and if we offload Abbiati(legend),Amelia,Zaccardo,Zapata,Bonera,Silvester,Constant,Muntari,Nocerino,Robinho,Matri,Birsa and Allegri we will gain at least 30m,making it 90m,then,i suggest we try Brazilian Dede again,and move for Dante,Astori,Varane,Garay,Alex Song,Santi Carzola,Cerci,Griezmann,Yarmolenko,Pedro,Onazi or a good Central Midfielder,with these we can target Sansiro 2016 UCL finals.


Sack Allergi


Shevchenko is another name now goig around about our future head coach. Im ok with that as well. One of my favorite all time players

Abu kaka

can any body have an idea about this Young player from Japan, ‘Kakitani’ ac milan are monitaring him?


Honda strikes again


Look at Robinho.. At Brazil he has played 2 great games and even scored.. If played in the right position under a good coachrRobinho can be a top player again


I saw that too. Robinho played awesome.


@#1fifaplayer…Totally agree. It’s time for Allegri to go!

El Sharaawy, Kaka, & Robinho would make an awesome attack!


and honda^^


There’s only one way to deal with our pitty cash, YOUTH!