In our mid-season review of Milan’s Primavera team, we lifted three players, who, in our opinion, are the closest to reaching the senior squad. Daniel Maldini, Luan Capanni and Marco Brescianini.
This is the first article in a series of three where we will profile these three players – starting with Daniel Maldini.
He is of royal ancestry in the Rossonero community as the grandson of Cesare and son of Paolo; the third instalment in a legendary dynasty. But this season, Daniel Maldini is establishing his own entity more and more for every game he plays.
Profile and skill set
He’s been one of the most impactful players in the Primavera this season, where he has taken on the role of offensive orchestrator mainly from his CAM position in the 4-2-3-1. As opposed to last season when he played mostly on either wing, coach Federico Giunti has maximised Maldini Jr. a lot more this season by playing him centrally.
Daniel’s skillset lies mostly in his eye for the game and touch on the ball. That’s the key reason as to why he gets more out of his game this season compared to last season.
— Paolo Maldini Fans (@MaldiniNews) November 1, 2019
Instead of focusing on the likes of one-on-one duels, crossing, and relying on limited speed, he gets more time with the ball in a central role and he can focus on playmaking, creating spaces for his teammates and shooting.
The results are a testament to this: in 12 games across all competitions this season, he has scored eight goals and assisted five. That’s already one more goal contribution than last year, except he’s played 13 games less. He’s been a standout player and a star for a rejuvenated Primavera.
It’s not only his produced numbers which sets Maldini apart from most of the Primavera team, it’s also his maturity in decision-making both on and off the ball, his way of thinking about football and his technical skills.
The few that are on par with him are striker Luan Capanni and midfielder Marco Brescianini. There’s a reason why Maldini has been chosen to feature on the bench with for the first team and train with Stefano Pioli’s men. He’s closing in on being ready, and the transition to the first team has already started as he came on for the final few seconds of Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Hellas Verona.
Daniel’s level of maturity says a lot given the extra weight he has on him due to simply his surname. The expectations are sky-high in the Rossonero community just by the surname he sports on the back of his shirt. But he seems unfazed by it; and rather determined to prove that it’s what he can offer which makes him special, not the name on his back.
📹 Daniel Maldini's goal for the Primavera against Genoa yesterday…
Paolo trying to play it cool after he realises the camera is on him 👀😂🔴⚫️ pic.twitter.com/rrLsmQzBhE
— SempreMilan (@SempreMilanCom) February 18, 2019
For the Primavera he’s always one of the hardest-working players. He moves around to collect the ball to bring it up the field, he presses with intensity when out of possession, he’s down working in defense. He’s always hungry for the ball, to create and to win.
He’s not counting on getting chances because he’s the son of a former Milan legend and the current technical director. He’s working hard to earn his chances, just like the rest of the young guns in the Primavera.
Areas for improvement
But as with every player, there are always areas to improve. In Maldini’s case, there’s mainly one: physicality.
Maldini is, as said earlier, his best whilst having the ball at his feet. However, he could improve his body strength to help himself fend off his opponents better. Today, he has tendencies to get knocked off the ball a bit easy.
His overall game would really benefit from having more muscle. It would help him in both defensive and offensive duels and it could give him longer time on the ball if he could hold off his opponents better. Time that in the end could improve the quality in his end product and his offensive orchestrating.
Maldini could also improve his close control in high tempo. He sometimes seems to be stressed and lose control of the ball whilst carrying it up the field – although he has become significantly better at this just since last season. However, this something which will improve by itself with game time, training, age and experience.
Overall, Maldini could be held as one of the better talents coming from the Primavera in recent years. Especially now, when he’s being utilised in his rightful position. This season he’s shown tremendous progress and the fact that he stayed with the team throughout pre-season, trains with them and has featured on the bench this season is testament to that the coaching staff and management recognised his talent and progress.
After having seen Christian – the brother of Daniel – leave Milan in 2016, it now seems that the Maldini family’s legacy has a good chance of being continued at Milan. Daniel Maldini is creating is own legacy and is establishing himself apart from the rest of the Maldini’s for every game he plays. Early prediction: there’s a bright future ahead for the just-turned 18-year-old.