Today's WTF Friday is aimed directly at the Milan Youth Academy. What once was the pinnacle of youth academies in Italy, a proverbial manufacturing plant for great Italian defenders: Tassoti, Maldini, Costacurta, and Pannucci. The ability to produce young talent was a key to Milan's success, a team built around an Italian core raised in the shadows of the San SIro and key Internationals as a compliment. The recipe was a model used beyond just AC Milan as time progressed in the 90s, Ajax, Barcelona, Manchester United. Each team building a home grown core, a handful of transfers and a cabinet full of trophies.
With Milan's first team decline, one could see a direct decline in the Youth academy. Truth be told there is a bit of a chicken and the egg complex with this statement. Did the youth team's decline cause Milan's decline, or vice versa? Does the current win now attitude force management to sell young players to procure established stars? I personally that last question needs to be answered with a resounding yes, in the current win now enviroment patience for a growing player is in short supply. I think the other factor is a poor judgement of talent. Let's look at a list of hyped youth players who never materialized shall we? Pato, Tabarez, Viudez, Darmian, Vila, Grimi, Verdi, Aadiyah, Gourcuff, Donati, Donnarumma, and Albertazzi. Some fans will blame the Coaches for not holding their hand and helping the development, others will blame Management for selling them before given a chance. I on other hand simply state, they probably weren't good enough as evidenced by where they ended up and their current career trajectory. Maybe Albertazzi and Darmian could have proved useful but rest were just noise.
The simple take away from this, until Milan once again refocuses on a solid foundation of youth this team will continue to yo-yo. The good news is bringing in Belgian specialists to check the psyche of youth and promoting from within, and promising talent like Mastour, El Sharaawy, and De Sciglio will help bring some confidence back. The lack of funds will certainly do that as well, but at the end of the day the youth players need to work to their ability and give the team what it desperately needs.