A new dawn after darkness: Milan hopeful their Primavera can turn a corner under Abate

By Louis Gibberd-Thomas -

Fresh off the back of their first Scudetto in eleven years, all the talk surrounding Milan centres on the current crop of players that accomplished this feat, and rightly so. However, one particular department at the club has had far less of an influence in recent times – the Primavera.

The new ownership in the form of Redbird have sought to continue the consistency found in the last few years, maintaining the likes of Paolo Maldini, Frederic Massara and Geoffrey Moncada in their existing positions. Talk of a new stadium continues, despite obvious bureaucratic hurdles and the club as a whole continues to modernise more in-line with other elitist football clubs.

Last season saw the long-awaited return to the UEFA Champions League and, as a result, a chance for the Primavera to shine in one of the few international platforms available to them – the UEFA Youth League. The first team may have demonstrated a fighting spirit despite finishing bottom of their group, the same could not be said for the Primavera side, who looked out of their depth with two losses and three draws.

Just as Milan came up against three of Europe’s top sides in Liverpool, Atletico Madrid and Porto, the Primavera encountered three youth set ups that arguably represented the gold standard as it relates to youth development in this sport. In the case of Porto, who once fielded Andre Silva in the same competition before his €40m transfer to Milan, built upon a reputation of producing super stars at this level.

The Rossoneri have had the benefit of calling upon some world class players from their academy throughout the years, to such an extent that any self-proclaimed Milanista reading this won’t need reminding – indeed, one such name has already been mentioned here. Recent history, however, has only seen the occasional breakthrough into the first team, with just Davide Calabria, Matteo Gabbia and Daniel Maldini featuring in our existing squad with many more having departed.

This is not to say this has come to the great detriment to Milan, who have been in a position to exploit market opportunities and reinforce in key areas. Nevertheless, while the squad on paper looks healthier than ever, it is certainly worth noting the important capital gains made from the Primavera in the last decade alone. An approximate €70m can be attributed to sales made on Primavera graduates in this time frame, notably Patrick Cutrone, Manuel Locatelli and Mattia De Sciglio.

Noticing the declining influence of the Primavera in the overall club strategy is reflected in recent times; albeit during the worldwide uncertainty of the global pandemic. The comparatively recent departures of both Giamcomo Olzer to Brescia and Milos Kerkez to AZ Alkmaar respectively represent the most notable instances where Milan have been able to cash in on their youth prospects. The impact of this was felt last campaign when the club saw only Jens Petter Hauge as a viable option to significantly bolster their coffers.

For this reason the club must continue to make strides in all areas including the Primavera, which looks ahead to a new season under the tutelage of former player Ignazio Abate. Taking over from Federico Giunti having previously coached the Under-16’s, the club will look to Abate for his experience and understanding as he follows in the footsteps of his father, Beniamino, himself a youth coach.

As with any new season at this level there’s likely to be change, most notably the expected departure of top-scorer from last campaign Marco Nasti. The likes of both Chaka Traore and Bob Murphy Omoregbe, who only joined in January, are expected to continue building upon exciting first seasons.

Stand-out players in Andrei Coubis, Emil Roback and Andreas Jungdal are likely to depart in one form or another, while recent signing Cathal Heffernan from Cork City and midfield maestro Gabriele Alesi continue to be observed closely as possible candidates for first team opportunities.

Milan have a way to go before they can boast a youth set up to rival that of the European heavyweights, but the direction the club is moving in gives credence to the idea that the Primavera will not be overlooked.

The recent successes for both Lorenzo Colombo and Tommaso Pobega have shown the value of maintaining an active strategy in incorporating these players and many will be hoping the likes of Kevin Zeroli and Francesco Camarda will themselves be destined for stardom in the red & black jersey.

Tags AC Milan Milan Primavera

1 Comment

  1. Excited to see what Abate can get out of these young lads. Especially now with Hugo Cuenca and potentially Tommaso Mancini leading the line.

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