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Wednesday Milan Musings: Home Grown or Store Bought?

My paragraph regarding home grown talent on the last post got me thinking, and while the above title may have some readers wondering if am going to be talking about organic fruits and vegetables, I assure you this is not the case. Instead I want to talk about the value of homegrown talent, the passion these players bring the table and why the future of Milan doesn’t rest with some flash in the pan signing.

The foundation and core of success of AC Milan has always been the players brought up through the ranks. In the invincible team these players were legends, heroes, the types of player that every team wanted, but only our team could have. As the years passed, Milan may have added players, but it was always made up of a core of players purchased before they were stars, and groomed into the first team, even Kaka was a product of time and effort, and not an instant success from the transfer market to the pitch. Ambrosini, Gattuso, Maldini and Kaka, these were the core that helped achieve the most recent CL glory and title winning season.

As I look at the roster now, this is no longer the case, youth players worked into the team such as Borriello, Antonini and Abate seem to have spent less time growing in the Milan system and more time being passed around small Serie A clubs. While I see the value of the loan, I no longer see the yield as something successful for our Club and these players. These players should have been raised in the same way the legends before them were, sure some were loaned out briefly, but not every season to a different a Club. In order to give playing time to purchased mercenary talent, some successful and some not so much, the core of this Club has been neglected to the point of no return, to the point where our youth team players have no identity with the Club and the Club has little value to the player. While I see a bit of passion being restored in the likes of Abate and Antonini, how should a player like DiGennaro or Paloschi feel watching players on the first team flop around while they are miles away, getting Serie A minutes, but losing their ties to the Club??

When Marco Borriello was brought home I was ecstatic, and that start of the season he looked like a man possessed, he appeared willing to run himself into the ground for this Club. As the season wore on I see a player without passion, without heart, and when a game gets tough or when a game calls for a level of intensity beyond that of a normal player, it is the homegrown that should rally and push the team forward, like Il Capitano did for some many years! Instead I see a blank face, not just on Marco, but on everyone else as well. So when I consider how he was passed around in favor of a player like Oliviera or Fat Ronaldo, instead of being groomed into the first team, I ask myself, can I blame him? This can be said for many our young players full of promise but overlooked time and time again for what reason?

When I watch team’s like Barcelona and Man United have success, I can’t help but noticed the sheer number of players on their starting squad that have ties to the Club before they were “stars” these are players that owe their success to their present employer and not the bizarre reversal that Real Madrid and Man City seem to think will bring them success. It is this idea of building a team around a core that yields results, and not the other way around, and certainly not the way the Rossoneri take the field every weekend.

With that said it is time for a purge, a big one, and yes it may cost success for a year, or two, or even three, but with some patience we should see reward. It was done in 1997, Milan was collapsed and rebuilt around the emergence of Abbiati, Ambrosini, Gattuso, and a few others who may not have been around for years and years to become household names, but helped lead the team forward into early success in the new millennium. So I say bring back Paloschi, DiGennaro, and Astori, give the keys to Borri, Antonini, Silva, Pato, and Abate, let the team be built around players who are Milan, who can grow into superstars for Milan and the Club and player will benefit together! At least if we suck we can then blame it on ourselves, the Club, and the system, instead of wondering each and every week what type of team will take the pitch and if we will make a mediocre Club like Lazio look good or if we can find a goal when three points gets the team into first place. Yes the team needs reinforcements, but spend the whole transfer purse on a bunch of 18-20 years old with talent and potential. See which ones work and which ones don’t, at least this way we are moving towards the future and not stuck in this limbo of aging players who don’t seem to give a shit anymore about OUR CLUB.