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Thursday August 7 2014
Cristante set to sparkle?

With the season fast approaching, Sam Lewis suggests Bryan Cristante may become a vital member of the Milan midfield a little sooner than expected.

In an interview with the Corriere della Sera, Filippo Galli – head of the youth sector at Milan - spoke about the future of Italian football. Among the hyperbole about the need to invest the future of calcio in the younger generation, he finished with a prediction: “This may be the year of Cristante at Milan.”

Galli’s confidence may be a surprise to some, but Bryan Cristante’s potential has been a source of excitement for many around the club for some time and 2014 may indeed be the year in which it blossoms.

The 19-year-old midfielder has risen through the youth ranks at Milanello and early indications from pre-season are that he could play a part in new Coach and former primavera boss Filippo Inzaghi’s midfield. In fact, given the injury status of captain Riccardo Montolivo and the lack of creative minds in the centre of the park for the Diavolo, Cristante’s role could go far beyond his, or anybody else’s, expectations.

The youngster and his Coach share a history, the latter having already worked with the midfielder during his tenure with the primavera, where Cristante shined. Acting as a central hub for Inzaghi, the Italo-Canadian was chosen as the best player at the 2013 Viareggio Tournament, as the club lost in the final to Anderlecht.

However, Cristante’s transformation from starlet to starter was not a particularly smooth one. After seeing minimal minutes behind Montolivo, Nigel de Jong, Sulley Muntari and others during both Massimiliano Allegri and Clarence Seedorf’s terms last season, Cristante entered the summer with rumours circulating about his future. A move to Sassuolo or Benfica looked likely before Milan decided against it. It is a decision that may prove key as the season progresses.

Composed on the ball with an eye for a pass, Cristante is a touch of skill in a midfield selection primarily known for solidity. In brief appearances in Serie A last season he was impressive – most notably a January game against Atalanta saw the youngster score with a pinpoint low drive. The strike grabbed the highlights but it was the poise of the teenager, not lost among a veteran side, that was perhaps most impressive. Milan will be hoping that maturity continues this upcoming season.

With Inzaghi now at the helm of the Lombardy club, the inference that the younger generation will carry the club forward is clearer than ever. The retired striker has mirrored that mandate with his action so far this pre-season, consistently relying on Cristante in the ‘regista’ role in front of the defence. Cristante has rewarded the faith placed in him, being a rare positive in an otherwise disappointing summer.

“I have to keep working,” Cristante told Milan Channel following the heavy loss to Manchester City. “We have to work to get ready for the first game on August 31.”

That day is now less than a month away and while the Milan squad’s focus to improve should be unilateral, Cristante may need to prepare for the start of the Serie A season more earnestly than he thought a couple of months ago.

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Have your say...
Milan have lots of talented youngsters, and under inzaghi they will be nurtured in the right way. Mastour is a huge talent but needs time, Inzaghi is managing him well and he is managing the other younger players well. Its a shame more managers aren't like him in Italy. Looking forward to seeing Rugani playing for Empoli in Serie A this season. He is a great prospect and has great potential. The FIGC election is a joke, anything could happen on Monday. It is making us look an embarrassment.
on the 9th August, 2014 at 11:14am
@viktor

i agree with you de jong has been impressive it is just case when when you look at what de jong offers in the long term combined with wage demands and contract situation i am not sure it wise not to cash in if utd offer 8 million. In any case i would have liked to see muntari leave there really is no bright future with this player for milan and the idea he can help milan break into the top 3 is laughable at best his only redeeming quality is he was one of milan best players last season
on the 8th August, 2014 at 8:46pm
On paper they look ok but will probably do worse than last year. Poor gk, poor defence, average midfield, one striker who be injured most of the season and another who will miss half the season due to discipline and will be gone in January
on the 8th August, 2014 at 5:13pm
@ FERBAN Not that terrible. I suppose that's the really frustrating thing. We're not actually that far off we signed a decent CB. I think it'll be more like:

New Keeper (Sanchez or some other freebie)
De Sciglio - Zapata - Alex* - Armero
Honda - De Jong - Monty/Poli
Menez - Balotelli - El Shaarawy

* At least Alex has won the league in France. If I had to rate are awful defenders it might go something like:

Zapata
Alex
Rami
Mexes
Bonera
on the 8th August, 2014 at 4:03pm
@FERBAN

So your saying they will end even worse this season? 9th spot? Im willing to bet my left nut on they will end better than 8th.
on the 8th August, 2014 at 3:41pm
As is, probable 1st 11:

Abbiati
Abate - Zapata - Rami - De Sciglio
Cristante - De Jong - Muntari
Menez - Balotelli - El Sahaarawy

Not a terrible team by any means but also one with no hope of a top 3 place. A Europa spot is probably beyond them too.
on the 8th August, 2014 at 2:28pm
@eric star fury

Not sure if we watched the same games but de jong been great so far..
on the 7th August, 2014 at 11:22pm
They have very good CB's at Milan but the problem is that they need a fresh start.

Same thing with the captaincy. Montolivo is not a good fit. The club should be making a move for a player of personality. Think someone like Verontghen at Tottenham.

Also, Balotelli has to stop wearing #45. Put on #9. Saponara, let's see him. Honda...not sure, probably better to leave.

The move for Menez is garbage tho. Taarabt was already there, and much better with a lot more potential. Awful awful move.
on the 7th August, 2014 at 4:57pm
I have similar concerns that cristante game time will be limited due to a lack european football, pressure on inzaghi and tactical set-up. Unless de jong or essien leaves it seems unlikely for me that cristante will get the game time he needs. It is seriously depressing that this is the situation for me muntari and essien offer nothing the long term and very little in the short term but are offered more of a opportunities to play than a young player of potential at milan.
on the 7th August, 2014 at 4:13pm
and Robinho is now gone. I always liked him and I think he's been loyal to milan but he had to go.

So we got rid of Constant, Robinho, Urby. Now we need to get rid of Bonera, Mexes, and Essien and thinks are looking brighter.
on the 7th August, 2014 at 4:08pm
@ Viktor It pains me to see you being negative. The day that you stop being positive about Milan we've lost all hope! I agree with you of course.

Robinho is finally gone! 3 years too late but he's gone! One slight problem. He went on loan so Galliani couldn't even get any money for a player he once spent €18m on! I'd say we've given up at least 20m by loaning/giving away Nocerino, Brsa, Matri, Kaka and Robinho.
on the 7th August, 2014 at 4:06pm
sign perin already. Another game with mexes, I have no clue why in h-ll he's till being used. Same thing goes with muntari.
on the 7th August, 2014 at 1:28pm
@ Cabrelli I think in any other season he wouldn't have been anywhere near but given how bad everyone else was his determination and drive and the fact he chipped in with a few goals and assists from midfield and played in a few positions meant that he was my pick. FT went for kaka and I can see why. Balo was probably are most effective player last season. Poli could become the new Ambro. Good midfield cover.
on the 7th August, 2014 at 1:16pm
I'm trying to think positively for thew development of Cristante this season. He is a future Azzurri regular but there is too much dead wood in this Milan squad which will hinder his opportunities and a poor defence behind him when he does get a chance. Milan have to keep selling or offloading the players in their squad who are not fitting in with Pippo's plans, but as usual, Galliani appears to be taking his time with the summer business. Lastminute.com
on the 7th August, 2014 at 1:15pm
Maldini's Heir - do you really think Poli performed last year? I found his very disappointing... losing the ball a lot, out of position. A lot of heart but I just didn't see a lot of quality or composure. Maybe I missed something. I like the look of Cristante and would like to see Saponara kick-on, too. We just need to beef up defence. Lopez is a step in the right direction.
on the 7th August, 2014 at 11:49am
The other problem is even if he does get games his preferred position is in front of the back four Pirlo style. When Pirlo played in front of the Milan back four he had Nesta and Madlini and Nesta and Thiago Silva behind him. Cristante has two of Mexes, Rami, Bonera and Alex and Zapata as the only competent CB. So when Milan start inexplicably conceding goals and the hierarchy are scratching their heads trying to figure out why they may in their continuing stupidity put the blame on Cristante.
on the 7th August, 2014 at 11:36am
My concern for Cristante is how will he get enough games to establish himself. Inzaghi wants to play 4-3-3 and seems to think Honda or Saponara can play as part of the midfield 3. So that leaves 2 spaces. We have De Jong, we renewed Muntari, we have arguably our best player last season in Poli and we have Monty. I assume we'll be selling Essien at some point. If Milan truly believed in Cristante they would not have renewed Muntari. They also would not have signed Essien last January.
on the 7th August, 2014 at 11:32am

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