With Andrea Bertolacci suspended and Riccardo Montolivo injured, Milan will opt for Jose Mauri or Manuel Locatelli to start beside Juraj Kucka in central midfield against Juventus on Saturday. Milan CEO Adriano Galliani confirmed that Sinisa Mihajlovic is poised to start one of the two young midfielders and went as far as to say he would not be surprised if Locatelli is the one to start.
Playing Mauri or Locatelli against Juventus would certainly be a bold move by Mihajlovic, but the Serbian manager has shown that he is not scared to put his faith in young players. His benching of Diego Lopez in favour of teenaged goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma is evidence of that, and if Mauri or Locatelli can come close to replicating Donnarumma's performances, Mihajlovic will look like a genius.
Jose Mauri's arrival in the summer was lauded as a coup, as Mauri was highly touted as a talented youngster who could make a difference right away. Instead, Mauri has struggled to find playing time this year and has made only one Serie A appearance, a 5 minute cameo against Chievo almost one month ago. Mauri impressed at Parma last year where he established himself as a promising box to box midfielder and scored Parma's goal of the season, giving them a legendary win against Juventus. It will be interesting to see if Mauri can replicate last year's performance against the Bianconeri, this time while wearing a Rossonero shirt.
Manuel Locatelli was called up from Milan's primavera team in January and has yet to make an appearance for the senior side this season. Locatelli is a regarded as one of Milan's most promising prospects, as the young Italian has turned heads because of the poise, passing, and vision he exhibits in midfield. Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi recently touted Locatelli as "The new Pirlo". Hopefully Locatelli can live up to the lofty comparison better than Mattia De Sciglio AKA "The new Maldini" has.
Starting Mauri or Locatelli from the start would certainly be risky, but with the alternative being Andrea Poli, it's probably a risk worth taking. In addition, Milan are going into the match against the league leaders with almost zero expectations of anything other than a loss, so hopefully Mauri or Locatelli thrive in a less pressure packed environment.