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Gianluigi Donnarumma: The Heir to the Throne

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He's big, he's ours - Gigio Donnarumma!

In recent years, AC Milan have allowed young talented prospects to leave the club before they've hit their stride. Milan have most notably let go players such as Bryan Cristante, Riccardo Saponara, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to other teams where they've really made a household name for themselves. Luckily, Milan have held onto the best prospect of them all, and quite possibly the best U21 player in the world as of right now.

Gianluigi Donnarumma, who towers in frame of the goal at 6'5" and 90kgs (198 lbs), was handed his debut by Siniša Mihajlović at the age of 16 in the midst of what ended up being yet another disappointing season for the Rossoneri. The young Italian custodian only made one save, but it was a fantastic save to deny Domenico Berardi's curling effort heading for the bottom left corner. From that moment on there was no looking back for Milan as Diego Lopez was given a spot on the bench for the rest of the season.

Since then, Donnarumma has gone on to be a hero for the red and blacks, saving points against Atalanta, Carpi, and most recently the home opener against Torino, parrying a 90' penalty to savor three points. The youngster also made quite the number of impressive saves last season, in which he made 31 appearances, against quality sides such as Juventus, Napoli, and even denying a penalty to Real Madrid ace Toni Kroos.

At the young age of 17, Donnaruma looks ready to snatch the crown from Buffon when his reign as the Azzurri's shot stopper comes to a close. There have been a few experiments in between the two such as Salvatore Sirigu, Mattia Perin, and for a short period of time Simone Scuffet was thought to be the next heir, but none have shown the tenacity, nerve and shot stopping ability that Donnarumma has.

For Milan, by the numbers, Donnarumma posted a 6.77 average match rating last season, only bettered by fellow compatriot Giacomo Bonaventura (Whoscored Statistics). He still has work to do as he's shown a weakness in catching crosses out of the air, and a relatively low passing percentage for a goalkeeper (62.6%), but at the young age of 17, Donnarumma has shown no signs of slowing down his development and has drawn plenty of interest from top clubs including Manchester United, Barcelona, and Real Madrid. However, amidst this interest it has been made very clear by Milan that Donnarumma isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and although this is something the Milanisti wish had been said about players in the past, it can only be said that it's better late than never.