Milan Need To Focus On Youth For Success

As long as Berlusconi remains at Milan, it is difficult to see the situation at the club changing anytime soon. So fans of Milan can forget about dreaming of seeing the world’s best players being brought to the San Siro. The club is simply in no position to do so any longer. Unless Berlusconi does sell the club to a new owner with the financial capital to bring in the big stars, then there seems only one way the club can ensure it status as one of the worlds leading clubs and that is to focus on youth.

With astounding success has Barcelona created superstar footballers by focusing on youth development at their now famed youth academy. Barcelona as a club has benefited greatly in recent years from a golden generation of players including, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique and, Pedro Gonzalez. The Spanish national team too has benefited greatly from Barcelona’s youth development policy with no less than seven of the 23 Spanish players that recently just won the world cup having been produced in Catalonia.

In light of the remarkable success of the Barcelona youth academy in recent years as evidenced by the European and world triumphs of both Spain and Barcelona in recent years, investing in youth development can be a highly effective way of producing great players that go on to form great teams who go on to win major trophies. Therefore despite the somewhat troubling circumstances surrounding Milan, there is every reason look at the situation with a glass half full approach rather than its opposite.

Sure, it is unfortunate to think that the club will be unable to bring in the game’s biggest stars who can endear themselves to the fans with their magical abilities. But, in a world where financial difficulties are prevalent, football no exception, this misfortune has to be accepted and almost expected. If the club’s changes it focus to producing top players from within the confines of the Milanello, then in the long term this will be of great benefit to the club both financially and on the pitch. Perhaps, Milan can produce its own homegrown stars who can amaze the fans with their performances.

From a financial perspective, it is much cheaper to produce your own talent. With an effective youth development program, the club can aim to create a world class side built of mainly former youth players of the club. Once youth players are transformed into world class players they will attract hefty transfer fees from club interested in their services and profits can potentially be made. Alternatively, such players can remain at the club and added revenue can be generated from the success such players could possibly deliver to the club.

On the pitch, there is much to be gained from such a policy. Firstly, the players, starting at a very young age can become trained and well-educated into the club’s philosophy of play. Producing players from youth level all with a like-mind as to how the club expects them to play can greatly help the club form a great side in the future. Another potential advantage to the club for producing it’s own star players is that such players will, generally, show a greater loyalty to the club than what could possibly be hoped for from a player brought in with a high transfer fee. The player’s loyalty to the club is not just shown in their unwillingness to leave, but may also be evidenced in the players’ work rate and commitment levels on the pitch which of course would greatly help the club achieve success on the pitch.

Developing top players from youth academy level is a long term project and results will not show for years to come. However, if achieved with success, the club can ensure it’s status as one of the world’s greatest clubs whilst also ensuring it’s own financial viability which of course is vital to secure the very existence of the club. Due to the recent successes of Barcelona, which has produced a generation of players with incredible technical ability and football intelligence, the Catalan club can serve as a kind of standard for Milan to follow.

However, not only in Barcelona should Milan look for guidance. The club can also take heed from its own history where in the past the club has helped create a host of great Italian players in Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta, Demetrio Albertini and of course, the legendary Paolo Maldini. The club will have to build on from this past success and there is good news in that the club has already taken steps to do so. The club is already one of the highest spending Serie A clubs in youth in addition to having the highest number of scouts in Serie A.

One major change that also needs to coincide with the club’s new focus on youth is for the senior team to follow suit. For too long, the senior team has relied on elder players like Jankulovski, Favalli, Oddo and Kaladze. Milan badly need new faces and talent. The performance of Azzurri in recent World Cup should be a stern warning of things to come if they keep on relying on "older" squad. In Milan's case, except for Pato and occasional brilliance of Pirlo there isn't much to look forward.

The senior team needs to integrate youth players into the first team instead of relying on players way beyond their best and way beyond the age of 30. Perhaps, Massimiliano Allegri is the man to do this and if his work at Cagliari is anything to go by, then there is even more reason to have adopt to look at the situation with a glass half full approach. Hopefully, this time around, Milan can give a stiffer competition to their neighbor, Internazionale.

Related Article:
Clash Of The Academies: Ajax vs Barcelona
Manchester United's Youth Academy

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