Gianluigi Donnarumma 17 Goalkeeper AC Milan Italy
17 years old.
17. Years. Old.
First choice goalkeeper for one of Europe’s biggest clubs, two full international caps for a side who have won 4 World Cups and a European Championship, high praise from the likes of Gianluigi Buffon and Dino Zoff who know a thing or two about goalkeeping, and completely at home telling far more experienced players exactly what they should be doing.
2016 has been…
…a year to believe the hype.
Making your debut at any position at 16 must be daunting, but to do so as a goalkeeper where every mistake is costly and at the only truly specialist position on a football pitch? It takes some level of bravery to take that all in your stride.
To do it and then make the position your own, then to get international recognition too is amazing and here, in Donnarumma, is a young man who doesn’t appear to do being phased.
Yes there are flaws in his game but why point them out when there’s so much good to talk about? His shot-stopping’s great, his authority in the area is phenomenal for someone so young, his anticipation is good - the expectations are high because he’s the one that keeps raising them.
Bars don’t get much harder to reach than Buffon but everybody already believes he’s going to surpass a legend. Pressure? Just a bit, we hope that doesn’t become too suffocating at any point.
Don’t change a thing, it’s all working, things are going well, there’s an occasional mistake but that just doesn’t matter because; 17 years old.
Milan are on the up, it would be worth seeing if you can help them make it back to where they belong. The Juve rumours keep circling and that’s pretty natural considering in two years time they are going to have to replace Buffon, but there’s little point doing anything but to keep learning your craft for the minute.
There are going to be thousands of words dedicated to this young man over the next couple of decades. The early promise is amazing, almost to the point of being unrealistic and the line of great Italian goalkeepers might have another name to add sooner rather than later. He definitely looks like Buffon’s natural successor internationally and is being folded into that squad accordingly, but he needs to be patient and we’d suggest learn everything he can from Gigi whilst he gets the chance to do so. Could he surpass the great man? Who knows, but if he does move at some point we wouldn’t be surprised to see the fee go past Buffon’s record.
We’ll say it again; 17 years old. If Milan had finished in the Champion’s League places or won a cup last season this would have been impossible to not be an A.
As it is he gets a B but we’re fairly certain at some point he’s going to join the top marks club.
B 17 years old. Incredible.
All images used have been kindly provided by the National Audubon Society in The United States under a Creative Commons License. The Society’s mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity. You can donate to their work, here.