By Dewa Nugraha
“I believe that in a time of economic difficulty, it is right to focus on young Italians, and make room for them in our squads,” so said Italian international and AC Milan summer signing Riccardo Montolivo answering about the current situation in Serie A and also his team.
This statement pretty much describes the road that many Italian clubs seem to be taking this summer.
It's been a while since Italian football enthusiast get to see Under 23 players featuring regularly in Serie A, especially in some of the top clubs, but this season a new trend is shaping up. A few years ago, Italian football fans saw top clubs competing in the transfer market for big name signings, but since economic crisis hit the peninsula, its finally time for Serie A teams to look for local prospects instead.
Some people might consider that Serie A's quality will further decrease this summer considering their failure to attract big names, but the new emphasize on youngsters could provide more benefit for Italian football. Providing more chances for young talents means that clubs can gradually improve their financial condition, thus providing fresh players for the national team, which is essential in the Azzurri's preparation ahead of 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Although not every potential talents will get immediate exposure this season things are starting to develop kindly for the youth's future, who have been somewhat abandoned in the past few years. Having the likes of AC Milan, Napoli, AS Roma and Juventus starting to give tons of playing time for their youngsters will most likely influenced other lesser squads in Serie A to take similar path.
If the current situation in Italy is still the same as few seasons back, there's a huge possibility that we won't be hearing names such as Lorenzo Insigne, Alessandro Florenzi, Stephan El Shaarawy, Mattia De Sciglio, Marco Veratti and others playing in top clubs. There will still be some questions on whether those youngsters can eventually light up the league just as previous departed super stars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Javier Pastore, Ezequiel Lavezzi, etc, but it’s a necessary gamble which has more upside than downside.
Italian teams shouldn't try to fool themselves in believing that they can still financially compete with other top and rich European clubs, so the wisest thing to do in this difficult time is maximizing all the available local prospects. Once the financial fair play kicks in and soon after Serie A teams prospered from this youth movement, they might finally have better financial leverage to pick up some high profile signings once again.
All in all, although it’s a project forced by situation, but the current youth movement in Serie A looks set to lift the league's popularity once again.
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