GdS: The certainties, the doubts and the coach – how Milan U23s would look

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan are serious about the idea of registering an U23 team in Serie C next season, and their motives behind attempting to do so have been outlined.

As La Gazzetta dello Sport confirm, Milan have contacted Pro Sesto to evaluate the availability of the Stadio Ernesto Breda as a venue for the U23s to play at. Aside from a discussion ongoing and with few certainties, how could a Milan second team be put together?

The project

Forming a ‘B-team’ is an ambitious, expensive project (around €10m per season, or just under) and so far in Italy only two Serie A clubs have taken this path: Atalanta and Juventus. Milan are thinking about it, but the final decision will be up to Gerry Cardinale, who will have to approve the investment.

Perhaps a meeting with a man closer to the field like Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be useful, in whom the Redbird number one reaffirmed his utmost trust a few days ago. Putting the necessary premise aside, the starting point is the head coach.

Today the strongest candidate would be Ignazio Abate, who in a year and a half at the helm of the Primavera team has shown that he knows how to work well with young players and above all that he is able to develop them, making a large pool of talent available to Stefano Pioli.

The results speak in his favour too, such as reaching the semi-finals of the Youth League last season and the quarter-finals this season, where Real Madrid await this month.

After an excellent start in the league, his team are currently sixth in the standings but it is largely because so many key pieces were called up by Pioli. If it ended like this, the team would be in the play-offs.

The team

The basis of a possible U23 would therefore be Abate’s group, with several players who have demonstrated the ability to adapt to challenging situations.

The number one talent on display is Francesco Camarda, who is doing very well in his first season in the Primavera as an underage player. Born in 2008, he is the youngest debutant in the history of Serie A (he made his debut against Fiorentina at 15 years and 260 days) and is the starting No.9 for Abate.

So far he has amassed 12 goals and 3 assists in 31 games and among these are his goal in the last derby and the incredible overhead kick against PSG, decisive for the 3-2 win in the Youth League group stage.  A move to the U23s would be a precious and logical step in his path.

Are there other guys ready for the jump? Certainly captain Kevin Zeroli, a midfielder who has already made his debut in Serie A and who has been through each group of the youth sector to this point.

The promotion could also be interesting for the 2005-born playmaker Hugo Cuenca and the 2006-born winger Diego Sia, who has been in the Primavera since last year and with 12 goals and 7 assists to his name.

A hypothetical U23 would be useful for the growth of a goalkeeper like the 2004-born Lapo Nava, who is actually now fourth in Stefano Pioli’s hierarchies for the first team and continues to climb the estimations of the staff.

The uncertainties

For Jan-Carlo Simic and Alex Jimenez, however, the contractual issues would have to be resolved first and foremost.

The centre-back made his Serie A debut with a goal against Monza in December and a few hours ago received his first call from the Serbian national team. He is tied to the club until 2025: with these conditions, joining the U23s is a less plausible scenario.

It is a different question for Jimenez. Milan can buy him from Real Madrid in the summer and the Los Blancos have a buy-back that can be exercised in 2025 and 2026. Should the project materialise (and still considering the possibilities of use in the first team) could be a useful name.

The bottom line is that having a second team would allow greater control over the minutes for so many of these talented young players who would usually be mentioned as being available for loan.

The final issue concerns recruitment, because the club will have to include above-age players in the squad to be competitive, so investment in signings would be needed.


Tags AC Milan


  1. Around 10M/season would sound excessive, but IMHO, it would pay for itself in the long run.

    I also don’t think that the squad should be made “competitive”. The purpose is to give these youngsters valuable minutes in an environment more challenging than primavera. And these young guns must show what they’re capable of – without the additional signing to make team “more competitive”. They have to understand that they have a clear path to be “drafted” to the main team, or at least, caught the eye of some lower Serie-A/B teams. Because if they can’t even hack it at Serie-C (with all due respect), then maybe they might not be ready for Serie-A.

    Just don’t get relegated is enough. Surely these boys are up for it.

    1. as far as I undertand even tho the team can’t ascend it could be a problem if it technically descends, so a couple of experience serie c and b players could help avoid the situation, even the barcelona when they had they academy golden days (they almost were on the second division promotion places) had like 5 older players with their gems. (obviously the less the better)

      1. I saw Atalanta U23 and Juve Next Gen are sitting quite comfortably in the top half of their respective series. I don’t follow them though, so any idea if they also have some kind of ‘older/more experienced’ players to balance it up as well, or purely made of by all U23 players?

        1. just searched juve’s, they got 4
          Fabrizio Poli (34)
          Samuele Damiani (26)
          Simone Locolano (34)
          Simone Guerra (34)
          Not a lot but enough just to help transition the players I guess

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