AC Milan’s academy is world renowned for producing some of the best young talents the football community has seen. Players like Maldini, Baresi, and Costacurta have come through the ranks, and have established impressive legacies as players for the club. Arguably the best Milan players in the clubs history have come from the youth team. There are also players in the current team who have come through the youth team ranks, such as Donnarumma, Calabria, Locatelli, and Cutrone. These players have made the tough jump from the Primavera team to the first team, but with lots of help from the management. Although the club has been able to successfully promote players from the Primavera team, they have also let some exciting prospects fall through the cracks.
Stephan El Shaarawy is the first player that comes to mind when you think of promising Milan players who have gone on to do great things for other teams. Yes, injuries did hinder the development of his career early on, but that fault was partially at the hands of the Milan management. After his injury, the doctors should have given him more time to rest, but instead, they forced him back into action, and the injuries kept on coming. He was a player with a lot of promise, and he could have been the cornerstone of a Milan team that had nothing going for them. But suddenly, he was loaned out to Monaco. This took many supporters by surprise, and many of us did not agree with the decision. It was the first of many disheartening signs that they had given up on such a promising and very young player. I was hopeful that he would return to the side after the season was finished, but after a disappointing campaign with Monaco, the rumours began to swirl about a return to the Serie a. Roma was leading the way in the race for “Il Faraone”, and they eventually signed him on a loan deal during the January window. The rest is history. He had an amazing spell with the Giallorossi, and they ended up signing him on a permanent deal. He continues to perform week in and week out for Roma, and is always one of the first names on the team sheet. Looking at the current Milan side, and the team we had last year, we were always lacking a good left winger. Signing Deulofeu on loan was a very good move, but it was just a loan. We could use El Shaarawy in our current team, and it seems as if he would fit perfectly. His style of play would compliment the other players around him, and although we have left wingers like Bonaventura and Calhanoglu, they are better at playing in other positions. The management did not wait for long enough for El Shaarawy to get over the hurdle he faced, and in return, we are paying the price for it now.
Another notable player that Milan has let go in the past was Bryan Cristante. He was another player filled with extreme promise. As of late, it seemed as if Milan made the right move to sell him, but he has started to pick up his form again. He has been a prominent force in Atalanta’s midfield so far this season and was just recently called up for the Azzurri. He played the final 15 minutes of the game against Macedonia and was an unused substitute when they faced Albania. Giampiero Ventura must see some untapped potential in Cristante, as he wants to give him international experience to help him develop. This is a very promising sign for the young Italian, but it does not help Milan too much as they let go of him a few years ago. They sold him quite abruptly after he was starting to show glimpses of the talent he possesses. In the two games he started in the red and black stripes, he scored a goal and got an assist. During the summer window of 2014, Milan sold him to Benfica for 6 million euros. He was and still continues to be, a promising player that Milan could definitely use. They once again showed their impatience, and could not turn down the mediocre transfer fee that was offered for such a young and promising player.
Last, but certainly not least, Riccardo Saponara. The early stages of his career serves as a perfect example of the problems within the Milan management of years past. He was not a player that had been brought up through the ranks of the youth academy, but rather bought from Empoli at a young age. Just after his 21st birthday, Saponara was acquired by the Rossoneri. He was the driving force of Empoli’s push to the promotion playoffs in the Serie B. Upon arrival at the San Siro, there had been large, and unjustifiable expectations placed upon him. During that period, the team found it extremely difficult to be creative and spark anything going forward. They rotated through three different coaches in a year and a half, but not even one of those coaches was willing to give Ricky a fair chance. Even after doing well during the few minutes he played, he continued to be seated on the bench. After his seemingly unsuccessful spell with Milan, he was loaned to Empoli, and attached was a 4 million euro purchase option. The loan move was fine because it would have given him a chance to play top flight football on a constant basis, but the option to buy was a bad move. Empoli swiftly triggered the clause, after he tore defenses apart towards the end of the season. Three assists and seven goals in 17 games on a newly promoted Empoli side is an impressive feat. He continued to carry Empoli to mid-table finishes year after year, which was the goal heading into the majority of their campaigns. He is now plying his trade for Fiorentina and continues to play well on a weekly basis for them. He could have been the piece of the puzzle that Milan have recently been searching for, and he could have formed a good partnership with the other players like Bonaventura, which would have been a very dangerous duo.
But instead, the impatience of the Milan management came back to bite them, and they once again felt the repercussions of their shortsighted actions.