Krzysztof Piatek has been at the centre of attention at the Stadio San Siro since his January arrival from Genoa, but as much of AC Milan’s recent resurgence is down to the improved form of Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Milan have conceded just three times since the calendar turned to 2019 – with one of those coming in the Supercoppa Italiana defeat to Juventus – and the Rossoneri are unbeaten in Serie A since they fell to Fiorentina on December 22.
Just as, perhaps, the reaction to his emergence was, the response to what was surely an expected dip in form for a teenager playing regularly at one of the world’s biggest clubs was a little extreme. Donnarumma is more than just the future of Italy and Milan’s goal, he is the present and has an impressive past behind him as well.
At just 20, he has 153 appearances under his belt for the Rossoneri having debuted for the club at 16.
“He has to spend less time with his mobile phone,” Gennaro Gattuso said of Gigio youngster not too long ago.
Donnarumma has responded. In his last 17 games he has kept an astonishing 11 clean sheets and only Paris Saint-Germain have done better – with 11 in their last 16 – in Europe’s top five leagues.
Today’s Milan, and indeed Donnarumma, are a far cry from the side that leaked in 16 straight matches between April and October of 2018. The player has confined his poor post-renewal form to the past and all who frequent the Curva Sud appear to have forgotten his 2017 contract saga, when he seemed to have one foot out the door.
“He has changed,” explained Gattuso when discussing the player’s maturation. “He’s 20-years old and has more than 150 appearances in a Milan shirt.
“It’s an incredible achievement for someone that young and he knows that he can always improve.
“Mentally, he’s come a long way and he has to continue along this path.”
There’s little doubt that Donnarumma is important for the Azzurri, which was acknowledged by Roberto Mancini.
“He’s a young boy who’s still maturing,” the Italy boss said.
“He’s always been good with the national team and with every game he plays he improves.”
Donnarumma’s changes haven’t gone unnoticed, either at Milan or outside and the club are planning to reward him for his development. Those upstairs at the San Siro are keen to extend his stay there until 2023, meaning a two-year extension on his current deal is being planned.
There was much controversy when he managed to negotiate a €6 million salary, but that looks like it could become €7m if an agreement is reached.
Currently, there is a problem surrounding his release clause, with Milan reluctant to put a price on his head. Should one be included though, there’s no chance of it being a figure below €100m.
Donnarumma has gone from being overhyped to underappreciated and now he is finding himself on the up again.
His performances have been excellent, and maybe living in the shadow of Piatek, Lucas Paqueta, Tiemoue Bakayoko and others is allowing the young but experienced ‘keeper to rediscover his best form without having too much spotlight on him.