GdS: Why Milan Primavera perform better in the Youth League than domestically

By Oliver Fisher -

Milan Primavera are in the UEFA Youth League final four for the second straight season, and yet their path in Europe has been juxtaposed by some domestic struggles.

La Gazzetta dello Sport writes that there is a precise strategy behind Milan returning to the Youth League semi-final, meticulous planning that has resulted in Ignazio Abate’s team being among the best four for the second year in a row.

It is linked to a league campaign that has been far from perfect, especially last season where Milan ended up 10 points off the play-off places. This year they are fighting hard to grab a place in the top six (they are currently fifth, 11 points behind leaders Inter and only one ahead of Sassuolo and Tirno), but progress in the Youth League is much better.

Why do the Rossoneri seem to be better in Europe? It is a question of squad composition, more specifically the age. Milan Primavera are the second-youngest team in the Primavera 1 (top division) after Juventus (18 years and one month, but they have an U23 team).

Above all they have built the last two seasons on a group made up of players born in 2005, i.e. those who are 18 and 19. The likes of Jan-Carlo Simic, Kevin Zeroli, Davide Bartesaghi and Alex Jimenez have all become cornerstones, at least when they haven’t been in the first team squad.

In addition to them there are several 2007 and 2008-born players, including Francesco Camarda, the golden boy of Italian football who made his record-breaking Serie A debut at just 15 years and 8 months old.

The Youth League, however, is a godsend for Ignazio Abate’s group, especially because the regulations in the league and the Youth League are very different. In Italy, teams can send up to six players born in 2004 onto the field, plus one player who is overage and who has no age limit.

Most of the squads in the division are built around 19/20-year-olds. Just look at the scorer rankings: among the top seven scorers there are six 2004-born (Vanja Vlahovic, Giacomo Corona, Flavio Russo, Andrea Ferraris, Issiaka Kamate and Luigi Cherubini) and one 2003 (Andrea Ferraris).

It’s a completely different matter in the Youth League, however, where by regulation up to five players born on or after 1 January 2004 can be fielded. Milan have only two, namely Clinton Nsiala and Andrea Bartoccioni, the reserve goalkeeper.

The YL top scorers are the poster child for how it is a competition for young people. The two top scorers are 2006 and 2007-born players respectively. The first is the Danish Amin Chiakha of Copenhagen, the second is Rodrigo Mora of Porto.

The latter was the youngest debutant in Portuguese professional football. In 2023 he made his debut in the second series with their B team at 15 years, 8 months and 10 days. More or less like Camarda in Serie A, and both have scored seven goals in the Youth League.

They are followed by Anhá Candé who was born 2007, also at Porto (6 goals), Yoel van den Ban from AZ (2006), Yannick Eduardo from RB Leipzig (2006) and two strikers from Olympiacos, Christos Mouzakitis and Charalambos Kostoulas. All have five goals.

Among them there is also Diego Sia, Abate’s star with 14 goals and 8 assists this season. To beat Porto, Milan will need their young gems to step up again.

Tags AC Milan Milan Primavera


    1. Sorry read the article properly….I thought you meant why do they perform better at youth v senior level….

      Good article.

  1. What is our average age our our team compared to the other semifinalists in Youth League?

    Also the teams that play in Youth League are not necessarily the best youth teams of each nation.

    Also if you have a player like Zeroli or Simic in another league where the level is lower than Serie A, you might have him playing a lot more minutes in the first team since goal is to get them as fast as possible at the highest level to sell them.

    Conclusion: It’s a good competition to add some experience and visibility, but far from being an accurate indicator of skill and potential in our Primavera. I’ll be a lot more happy when we have 5-6 players in Italy U21 team, that would be a much better indicator, and currently we have 0.

Comments are closed

Serie A Standings

Live football scores . Current table, fixtures & results.