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The Loss of Young Talent: Is There Really A Project At Milan?

Not only has Hachim Mastour, Milan's 16-year old wonder kid, reportedly been offered to Turkish club Besiktas, but Riccardo Sapanora, one of Italy's most prominent young talents, is now an Empoli player.

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Milan are no strangers when it comes to missing out on talented young players. One of the most obvious examples of this is with Alexandre Pato. A couple of years ago, Pato was a scoring machine and one of the best players in his position. Because of injuries, he never lived up to his full potential, so he was transferred to a Brazilian team. This is just one of many examples of Milan's failure to maximize the potential of their young players.

There are two sides to this though, and Milan have also enjoyed great results from their young players, especially those who were developed in Milan's Primavera, or academy. Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani should know that players who join the senior ranks after time in Milan's academy may ultimately become very talented individuals. One example is Paolo Maldini, arguably the greatest center back of all time, who was a product of the Rossoneri's Primavera.

Hachim Mastour is currently the pride and joy of the Milan academy. Dubbed as the next Messi/Ronaldo/Zidane/Sneijder/Big Thing, he is something special. His dribbling skills and his ball control are phenomenal, and the fact that he is only at the tender age of 16 should make Milan fans even more exited. Just take a look at these videos:

A player with this much potential and skill should never be sold, right? Unfortunately, Milan thinks otherwise. Milan has reportedly offered the Turkish club Besiktas Hachim Mastour, plus 3 million euros, for their right wing Kerim Frei. Kerim Frei is a young star in the Turkish league, but with only three goals and one assist in 43 appearances, he is nothing more than a good player. Milan fans should pray that Mastour’s talents do not go to waste. Hachim Mastour has the potential to write a story for the club similar to Paolo Maldini's. But by the looks of it, Milan could, once again, lose out on such a great young player. If this deal pulls through, this serves as evidence that there is no real project at Milan: just Galliani and Berlusconi talking about the idea, but not actually living up to it.

Even more troubling, there is precedent: what may happen to Hachim Mastour unfortunately recently happened to Riccardo Saponara. Riccardo Saponara was the cream of the crop when it came to talented Serie A players. When Milan signed Saponara a couple of years ago, Galliani proclaimed, "Saponara is certainly a player that fits in with the policy of focusing on youth that Milan are taking". Galliani would end up eating these words. Saponara’s spell at Milan consisted of him playing out of position during the few moments he was actually allowed to play and him being overlooked by both Allegri and Seedorf. Because of this, he was loaned to Empoli.

While at Empoli he scored seven goals and made three assists in seventeen appearances. During this time he grew into a very confident player. These stats propelled Empoli to spend 4 million to trigger his release clause. So Saponara then went to Empoli. It was as easy as that. One of the best young players in Europe left Milan without Milan even flinching.

It seems Milan’s strategy is to buy a young star and then sell him for an extremely low price before he actually has a chance to showcase his skills. This could be evidence that Milan does not have a strategy or a project and never had one. If Mastour is sold too, the transaction will only serve as confirmation of this troubling truth.