The influx of new money following Bee Taechaubol's recent investment in the club appears to have ended AC Milan's much vaunted youth policy which was first proposed following Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva's departures in 2010.
However, the truth is that the project was never really given a chance by either Adriano Galliani or a succession of coaches who consistently preferred to rely on fading big-names.
The irony now is that although Milan have returned to their former ways of spending money on established stars , in new coach Sinisa Mihajlovic they actually have a tactician with a decent record of giving young players a chance. Of course giving youngsters first team opportunities in the provinces where there is less pressure is not the same as putting your job on the line by giving them a playing time at a club of Milan's stature.
However, pre-season has been encouraging in terms of Mihajlovic's selections with several potential stars afforded opportunities to highlight their ability ahead of the new season.
Here are five of the most promising young players at the club who could feature for the Rossoneri this season.
Hachim Mastour (Trequartista, 17)
There isn’t much to write about Mastour that has not been written already. A teenage superstar and footballing sensation without ever having stepped on to a pitch with Milan’s senior squad, the prodigious talent was promoted to the first team last season under Inzaghi but Rossoneri fans were disappointed when the then 16-year-old was never given his debut.
In fairness to Inzaghi that was probably the right decision. Despite his undoubted ability the most important aspect for Mastour’s career at this point is patience, not just from the club’s management, but also from the player himself.
Having snubbed Italy and made his senior international debut for Morocco in June becoming the youngest player ever to do so, Mastour is obviously eager to get some game time at Milan and although he should undoubtedly work his way into Mihajlovic’s plans at some point this season, the Serb should be cautious with the Reggio born trequartista. It’s one things to play the last two minutes against Libya, quite another to go up against the likes of Giorgio Chiellini and Kamel Glik every week.
That said, there is a real sense of excitement around Mastour, whether he is dazzling in internet videos or impressing in friendly matches. As noted above, Mihajlovic has a decent record of playing youngsters and Mastour should definitely benefit from the new 4-3-1-2 formation implemented by the coach.
Moreover, with rumours that Keisuke Honda is set to leave Milan before the end of the transfer window, Mastour could find himself surprisingly high up the pecking order or a 17-year-old. Perhaps this could be the season that Mastour explodes, but simply getting some match experience would count as a success with greater things expected further in the future.