Since the start of what has been dubbed a ‘youth movement’ at AC Milan, several players have joined the first team squad from the Primavera at the beginning of each season.
These players have included Mattia De Sciglio, Bryan Cristante and Andrea Petagna.
Here we focus on the next five youth players most likely to force their way into the first team roster in June.
Davide Pacifico – 20 – Centre-back/Left-back
As captain of the Primavera, it’s not a given that you go on to play for with the senior squad. But, for Davide Pacifico, his name has been under consideration for some time.
At 20 years of age, Pacifico is one of the veterans of the youth academy and would probably be out on loan if he didn’t have the captaincy. Born in the nearby city of Varese, many fans have been hoping the defender can emulate the unprecedented rise of Mattia De Sciglio in the Milan first team.
A tall, quiet player like a few of his predecessors, Pacifico has shown excellent leadership qualities and formed a tough defensive partnership alongside Luca Iotti.
Capable of playing at both centre-back and at left-back, Milan’s short-comings in defence could offer a rare opening for Pacifico. He had an opportunity pre-season during the Audi Cup where he showed great maturity nullifying the threat of Sao Paulo’s forwards.
For members of the Milan board, there is a desire to see the academy produce players already qualified to slot into the first team. Pacifico would be setting a real example for youngsters to come should he make the cut in Serie A.
Davide Di Molfetta – 17 – Winger
A genuinely talented young attacker with a bright future, Davide Di Molfetta should certainly get his chance to play in Serie A before too long.
Born in the Sesto San Giovanni (a Milanese town), Di Molfetta joined the Rossoneri youth ranks aged just ten. His progress saw him outshine his peers and before too long was playing in the Primavera aged just 16.
Now he’s at the stage where he can comfortably play his own game; looking to take on defenders and cut inside to shoot. His technical ability has been perhaps his most talked about feature as he is easily the most skilful player of his age group.
In October 2011 he was called up for a double friendly with Italy’s Under-16’s. He made his international debut in the first game and scored in the second. He’s a player Milan are very proud of and he continues to impress, particularly the fans who come to see him play.
He was recently added to Milan’s squad to face Udinese in the Coppa Italia but did not feature in the match.
The early signs are all there. Clarence Seedorf was happy to call on the winger with a depleted squad at his disposal. However, he still needs to work very hard and still has the chance of a loan move to Serie A or B. The fact is, Milan have faith in Di Molfetta, and so long as they support him, he could have a great future at the club.
Krisztian Tamas – 18 – Left-back
One of the relative unknowns in Milan’s Primavera team, Krisztian Tamas is one of the hardest working players in the academy and the Hungarian has really put the hours in.
The 18 year-old was signed from Szombathelyi Haladas in 2011 amid grossly exaggerated expectations (he was known as the Hungarian Gareth Bale). He disappeared immediately from public attention and began a gruelling adaption to the Italian game.
The Milan staff refused to rush Tamas and his first year with the Rossoneri was dominated by spells on the bench or irregular minutes on the field. In the 2012-13 season, Primavera coach Aldo Dolcetti played in a 3-4-3 formation which drastically affected his performance.
However whenever faced with an issue, Tamas fell back on his work rate and willingness to improve.
When he first arrived, Tamas was primarily a left-footed player and lacked any real heading ability. Specialised training has helped him develop these aspects of his game, and any other deficiencies he may have defensively he makes up for in running. Many of the youth staff have commented on Tamas’ stamina which has been his greatest area of improvement.
Though a lot is stacked against him, Tamas does have a brief window of opportunity to break into the first team. Milan have been looking suspect at left-back for some time now and the Hungarian should look to make himself known.
Andrej Modic – 17 – Central Midfielder
Perhaps the most likely player to join the first team roster is Andrej Modic who has virtually everything working in his favour.
This isn’t the first time at Forza Italian Football the young Bosnian has been identified for greatness, as Kevin Pogorzelski has already touched on the 17 year-old.
When Bryan Cristante joined the first team, Modic was the only conceivable threat to the Italian’s promotion and may yet pose some competition in the years to come. Capable of playing in a withdrawn or attacking area of the midfield, it’s difficult to accurately determine where exactly Modic would ideally play, as he performs admirably wherever he’s positioned.
One of two brothers, with his younger brother, Mihael, under the tutelage of Cristian Brocchi in the Milan academy, Andrej has been the heartbeat of the Primavera midfield. Comfortable in possession, a wide range of passing and a fearsome shot makes for an excellent playmaker.
His talent is fully acknowledged within the walls of Milanello as he’s trained with the first team a dozen times already.
With Milan looking to find more desire and, in some places, higher quality midfielders, Modic could get the same chance Cristante has been given to assert himself in the first team. He took part in a friendly against Chiasso earlier in the season where he really impressed his employers. He seems the most likely to join the first team because of the extended period he’s spent among the club’s star players.
Hachim Mastour – 15 – Attacking Midfielder
Although he may not be in the Primavera, Hachim Mastour has to be a consideration, as it seems Milan are desperate to give him his competitive debut. However, at the ludicrously young age of 15, the Rossoneri are handling Mastour with maximum care so as not to damage their most talented young player.
The mere fact that they are trying to give him his debut at this point gives an idea of quite how talented he is. Indeed few have ever shown levels of technical genius like Mastour has at Milan.
Gifted with superb spacial awareness, movement and ball mastery, at times it seems as if he’s being controlled by a games console. His debut for the youth team sent ripples through the club and effectively began the new fascination with youth football amongst fans.
Already the €500,000 fee paid for Mastour appears to have been worth it.
In his first outing, Mastour scored twice, both in spectacular fashion. Since this point, he’s expected to do something amazing each game for the fans, who eagerly congregate in their hundreds to watch him play. Never before has one player inspired such attention in Milan’s academy.
Game by game, Mastour performs a new fancy trick that he’d simply not shown fans previously, but his incessant need to leave players in the dust has it’s drawbacks, as he frequently picks up injuries from fouls committed by frustrated defenders.
It’s this very fragility that has perhaps held Mastour back. In order to confidently deploy the youngster, Milan need to be sure Mastour is ready and that he will be available for several matches, not just a fleeting opportunity ruined by injury.
The vast majority would prefer for Mastour to develop in the academy properly before being hoisted into Serie A. However, there is great anticipation and neglecting to give the youngster his debut could result in a transfer being forced through; enough to make Europe’s elite salivate at such an opportunity.
There is no doubt Mastour is the club’s most valuable commodity, but a perfect strategy must be put in place for his future.
This ‘new’ Milan simply cannot afford to let a player of his caliber slip away.
Follow Louis Gibberd-Thomas on Twitter: @mercutio156