Connect in the back of the net

One of the stories of the season in Serie A has the been the incredible rise of teenager goalkeeping sensation Gianluigi Donnarumma. The AC Milan shot-stopper, who turned 17 only a couple of weeks ago, has become first-choice keeper at the San Siro and has impressed everyone with maturity beyond his years.

Italy has always been a hotbed of goalkeeping talent and in Gianluigi Buffon they are blessed with arguably the most consistent goalkeeper in world football over the past 20 years. The Juventus keeper has made the Italy number one jersey his own through his own high standards and he’s not been under huge pressure from any other keeper since he replaced Francesco Toldo during World Cup 2002 qualifying.

With Buffon now 38, Italy have finally had to face up to the fact that they might need a new goalkeeper soon and the rise of Donnarumma is timely to say the least.


Main beneficiaries

The main beneficiaries of course are AC Milan who are having another disappointing season in Serie A despite some big money signings last summer. They have no realistic chance of making the Champions League now and a 2-0 defeat to Sassuolo last time out has left them in 6th place and a long way off the likes of Juventus and Napoli.

Aside from their Coppa Italia run which has seen them progress to a final against Juve, the emergence of Gianluigi Donnarumma has been their biggest positive. Clearly the teenager is not the complete goalkeeper yet and by no means should he be expected to be that at such a tender age.

His main assets include his shot-stopping skills and reflexes while at 196cm tall, he has a presence in the penalty area and is not shy of coming off his line to take charge of situations. He favours the European approach of punching rather than catching crosses and although he has made the odd error, performances like his showing in the 3-0 derby win over Inter have displayed his obvious qualities and perhaps more importantly his temperament to handle big occasions.

With veteran Christian Abbiati, who is over twice Donnarumma’s age, still at the club the youngster has a fine role model to look up to and will no doubt be learning from the long-serving Milan keeper.


Possesses all the needed qualities

17 year old Gianluigi Donnarumma appears to have all the qualities required to make it at the top level and could develop into a regular fixture in the Milan side and potentially Italy squads over the coming two decades.


Written by Mark Sochon

Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol

Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!

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