Eight-and-a-half years ago, Matteo Darmian made his debut as a professional footballer for Milan, entering in the second half of a Coppa Italia match against Brescia in November 2006.
Now 25, Darmian is now a Manchester United player, making the move to Old Trafford from Torino.
Darmian is considered part of what has become an incredible summer for Manchester United. No team has had a better summer. Louis Van Gaal has added Darmian, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay to a squad already overflowing with talent.
He only made four appearances in Serie A for the club before going on loan to Padova and Palermo. In 2011, he moved to Torino on loan, and Milan were paid 500,000 for his permanent services in 2012. Torino made cashed in for more than 18 million euros when Manchester United came knocking.
Darmian is now a star on the rise for Italy and ready to burst on the scene in the Premier League. In doing so, he has become the latest in an upsetting trend among youth players.
Milan has been in a state of disarray since winning the Scudetto in 2011. The moves made to try eradicating the problem have proved mostly unsuccessful, and promises of youth movements and rebuilding from within have proven to be lies.
Promising young players have been cast aside time and again at Milan, before they can be given a fair chance to earn a spot. Imagine if Milan had held on to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the speedster who has created nightmares for German defenses with Borussia Dortmund.
What about Alberto Paloschi? He may not be a superstar, but a club starving for goals from a striker the past few years could have benefitted from his strength in the box, the way Chievo has.
Anyone remember Yoann Gourcuff? It was great when Milan said they wanted to loan him to get more playing time back in 2008, but due to the option-to-buy clause in the loan, Bordeaux cashed in on a talented, young midfielder who could have solved a lot of problems for Milan, which was fielding an aging (though legendary) midfield. Injuries have been an issue in recent years for Gourcuff since joining Olympique Lyon, but imagine a healthy Gourcuff in his prime at Milan.
The trend goes on. Davide Astori has become a starting center back in Serie A, often the target of the league's top clubs. There are many players who have hardly been heard from recently—Alexander Merkel, Rodney Strasser, Davide Di Gennaro, among others—but with how poor Milan has been in recent years, it is easy to wonder what would have happened had they committed to their youth and built from within.
In Hachim Mastour, Milan has one of the most promising young talents in the world. His jersey is already popular among Milan fans, and he is already getting looks with the Morocco national team. He is considered to be one of the best players of the coming generation, so it is reasonable for Milan fans to be worried he will become a world superstar somewhere other than Milan.
Worse yet, there is reason to be worried Milan hardly lets him see the field. After all, so many before him were supposed to and did not.