One of the new young stars to come out of the Italian goalkeeping system is that of Gianluigi Donnarumma, with Simone Scuffet’s own recent achievements already seeming pale in comparison and almost completely forgotten.
A year younger than Scuffet on his debut at the spritely age of 16, Donnarumma has caught the eye of various scouts (like that of Manchester United) and of course goalkeeping fans! The youngest debutant goalkeeper in the history of top tier Italian football is quite something and by the looks of it, a lot is expected of this young protégé.
AC Milan having been struggling with the injuries and form of Diego Lopez and short on a long term replacement, management made the now incredibly wise decision to give him his debut against Sassuolo on 25th October. Having already impressed when given playing time in pre-season, coach Mihajlovic showed a vote of confidence in giving him playing time against Chievo and beyond.
Whenever a new goalkeeping talent comes out of Italy (which is a pretty regular occurrence now), the press are all too quick to label them as the next Buffon, discounting their style and approach to goalkeeping. But that of the “next Buffon” is too simple and a label that ignores Donnarumma’s qualities. Even if they share the same first name, Donnarumma is more than his namesake when it comes to goalkeeping.
If anything, Donnarumma is more like Valdes than a goalkeeper known for his shot stopping and deep positioned style behind a strong defence. As shown by his approach in his debut for the Series A team, his confidence behind the ball as well as catching it can give his side a greater edge.
Donnarumma a merges the style of a ball playing sweeper in the modern trend, with that of a confident area-controlling Italian, blending into a unique mould of shot stopper and opportunity creator. And in the modern era of football, a ball playing goalkeeper is second to none.
The fact that he is confident controlling his area like that of Buffon with a confidence that belies his age, it is up to Donnarumma to prove to the world how great his natural talent is. A talent so great that Christian Abbiati has gone as far as saying the Pope might have been praying for Milan’s miracle goalie “The Lord looked down on him and said, ‘You need to be a goalkeeper.'”
However the season turns out, Donnarumma has already made waves and given Milan fans hope, and his team a fighting spirit, and with the world turning their eyes on young goalkeeping talent, it will be interesting to see if more coaches take the brave step of giving the future a chance.