Milan and The Italian Job

Not nearly as suspenseful as the movie, Milan have lost almost all of their Italian players. With so many homegrown players pushed out, Milan actually have zero players on the Italian national team at the Euro Championship this summer. Almost more distressing, there are five former Milan players within the team. While scouting for good talent elsewhere at low costs to the club helps us to be competitive in Serie A, having fewer Italians in the squad will actually hurt us when it comes time for Pioli to submit his Champions League list later this year. Like a heist gone wrong, Milan are losing the Italian job.

Armani jackets everywhere, but not a Milan player in sight

Locatelli's brace for Italy yesterday brought back the painful flashbacks of his exit, one that could have been simply a loan for development with a return to the club. Yet the player himself felt the club had no faith in him, so he chose to make the loan deal with an obligation for Sassuolo to buy. He was worth €7.3 million at the time he left Milan, and has more than quadrupled in value in the three years since then, with a current market value of approximately €32 million. Considering that he was dumped for the likes of Montolivo, Biglia, and Bakayoko, it just hurts that much more.

Other ex-Milan players in the current Italian squad include Cristante (young player who left for more playing time,) Bonucci (yes, the one year does count as an ex,) Acerbi (personal issues prevented him from performing well until later in his career,) and Donnarumma (no comment.) But the list of "homegrown" or "club trained" players continues to shrink, despite Milan's improvement on the pitch. Even with so many young players right now, our Champions League squad will be limited by the number of foreign players we have. A smaller squad means fewer players to rotate, or to turn to when injuries happen.

Now scouted by teams like Barca and Juve, he could have developed at Milan

UEFA's squad list allows for a maximum of 25 total players on List A, at least two of which must be goalkeepers, and eight of which must be trained in Serie A (in Milan's case.) Of those eight, four must be club trained. In List A, Serie A trained players include Romagnoli, Kessie, and Tonali, while the only club trained player over 21 is Calabria. That means we lose four spots on List A. Since List B includes club-trained players under the age of 21, Daniel Maldini and Gabbia would qualify for List B, which is unlimited, and ideally we would have some talent available there. However, considering our Primavera team finished tenth in their league this season, our talent may not be so unlimited.

Long story about rules and guidelines short: Hauge was excluded from the Europa League list this past season because we had more foreign players and not enough club or Serie A trained players. Pioli was forced to make a choice, and he will be forced to make further choices this coming season. With the exit of Donnarumma, we lose another club trained player who would be eligible for List A, replaced by another foreign player. 

Europe or no Europe? Depends on where you developed as a player

Depending on other moves in the mercato, particularly whether or not Romagnoli stays and if the tricky deal with Cellino for Tonali doesn't go the wrong way, we risk losing even more spots, reducing our Champions League squad size even further. Also pending is whether or not Pobega, Conti, or Plizzari are brought back from loan, all club or Serie A trained players. While most of those names don't sound like Champions League players, they are more warm bodies, which we fell very short of this past season due to injuries. 

Having players like Locatelli and Cristante doing well in the Italian national team only emphasizes Milan's switch from homegrown and club trained players to relying on foreign talent. It is the first time in decades that Milan has had zero players in the Italian national team. The issue also emphasizes once again Milan's poor development of youth in general.

Milan had five current players in Italy's 2006 World Cup winning squad

Whether or not this young squad is ready for the Champions League is another discussion altogether, but Pioli may need to exclude some of our more talented or experienced players to compete in Europe next season. That may impact morale, a dip we saw after (but may not have been caused by) Hauge's exclusion from the squad this season. The wage and transfer costs are getting lower, the play is improving, but like a foiled heist, Milan's shrewd transfer strategies could impact our Champions League dream. Milan may be losing the Italian job.

This post inspired by the music of Andrea Bocelli's "Con te partirò"

Milan and The Italian Job Milan and The Italian Job Reviewed by Elaine on 4:00 AM Rating: 5
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