Match-day twelve in Serie A is now behind us and the international break is here. Fun. Inter continued their slew of 1-0 victories while Roma, Napoli, and Fiorentina all confirmed their title credentials with convincing wins. Juventus continued their climb up the table with a 3-1 win against a struggling Empoli side. Milan, on the other hand, may not have won but remained undefeated in their last five games thanks to the performance of a certain 16-year-old keeper. Due to his exploits this past weekend, Gianluigi Donnarumma is Serie A Scouted’s player of the week.
Match stats v Atalanta: Gianluigi Donnarumma
Crosses punched: 3
Passes completed: 19/35
Ball recoveries: 1
Against Atalanta, the rossoneri didn’t have the best of games defensively and counted on their goalkeeper on more than one occasion to save their blushes. In the first half, Donnarumma immediately imposed his 6’5 frame and dominated his eighteen yard box. For a player as young as he is, his command of his area is truly surprising. Usually, such a quality comes with experience but the young Milan keeper appears to go against the norm. Outside of his impressive organization of his box, the 16-year-old made a nice, positional save to deny a low cross from crossing the area. When the half-time whistle blew, the keeper was yet to make his mark on the game but did show a calm head throughout.
The second half, however, was a complete different story. Edy Reja’s Atalanta would push on and created a number of quality scoring chances. Luca Cigarini would be the first Atalanta player to be denied by Donnarumma’s brilliance after meeting Maximiliano Moralez’ cross with a towering header from just outside the six yard box. The young keeper had other ideas and got down quickly to parry it away. A few minutes later it was Moralez’ turn to have a go at the 16-year-old keeper after he was played through on goal. The Argentine would see his volley get saved by Donnarumma as the keeper did well to cut down the angle and make a reflex save. Just like that, the 16-year-old had made two crucial saves in the space of minutes.
— World AC Milan. (@WorldACMilan) “https://twitter.com/WorldACMilan/status/663103437752651777”>November 7, 2015
The Atalanta onslaught would not end there as Alberto Grassi would receive the ball in all kinds of space at the edge of the Milan area. The 20-year-old would hit the low cross with his first touch but Donnarumma was once again there to keep Atalanta at bay. The rossoneri keeper got down quickly to make a David De Gea-esque kick save with his left foot. Somehow the score was still 0-0 at the San Siro. The game would eventually end in a stalemate with Donnarumma claiming his second clean sheet of his career in four games as well as the man of the match award.
After the game, many, including his teammate M’Baye Niang, were quick to praise the young keeper. The former Genoa man told the club’s official website:
“We see what Donnarumma is capable of every day. Today he saved us, we have to congratulate him and he deserves all the praise.”
Since Donnarumma has replaced Diego Lopez, Milan are undefeated and have only conceded two goals. Due to his impressive performances for Milan, he has earned himself a call-up to the U-21 national team alongside Davide Calabria and Alessio Romagnoli. After his debut against Sassuolo, Diego Lopez was quoted as saying:
“He’s the future of Italian football and Milan.”
Not too shabby considering it’s coming from the man he’s replaced. In any case, I urge everyone to proceed with caution when it comes to Donnarumma because, well, he’s only 16. While it’s easy to compare a 16-year-old goalkeeping prodigy by the name of Gianluigi, to another famous goalkeeper by the same name, please don’t do it. Let. Him. Be.
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Originally posted on Serie A Scouted. Read more blogs here