Milan block flourishing in Prandelli's Italy

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Claudio Villa/Getty ImagesRicardo Montolivo has emerged this season for the Rossoneri.

With Serie A temporarily on hold for the international break, Italy face Brazil this Thursday before a World Cup qualifying clash with Malta next Tuesday. Cesare Prandelli has called up five Milan players to his squad, with the Rossoneri contingent set to increase in the years ahead.

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"I have five Milan players here and I hope that will grow. I like the idea of working with blocks of club players. I don't have that much time and players therefore already know each other well," Prandelli said at his press conference on Monday.

Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy both received call-ups, and despite the latter's recent dip in form there is a strong possibility that they will lead the Azzurri attack in Switzerland on Thursday night.

They are joined by the ever-improving Riccardo Montolivo, who is beginning to take control of this Milan team from his position in the heart of the midfield, while Ignazio Abate is widely expected to feature at some point.

Montolivo has faced criticism since his arrival last summer, and still has a tendency to disappear during games at times. However, with such responsibility placed on his shoulders, he is fast evolving into a key foundation of the current Milan side and will hope to play his part in Prandelli's team ahead of, and during, the World Cup next year.

Promisingly, there is a return to the senior set-up for Mattia De Sciglio as he is rewarded for his impressive performances for the Rossoneri this season. Still only 20 years old, the versatile De Sciglio has demonstrated aptitude on either flank, while displaying a maturity far beyond his years.

"It's always exciting to be back with the Nazionale. It already means a lot to just be here, but I now want to play -- although that will be up to boss Prandelli," the youngster told reporters after hearing of his call-up.

Having received praise from Milan legend Paolo Maldini earlier this month, there is still much room for improvement, but being involved with the national team at such an early stage of his career will undoubtedly bode well for him in the future.

There is little doubt that De Sciglio can make the left back berth his own for years to come, which will of course give further credence to the Maldini comparisons. However, as he has shown in his career thus far, he has both the mentality and ability to flourish so it is merely a question of whether he can maintain it.

Prandelli and Milan have a similar vision for the future, both built on youth and planning for the long-term future and are almost collaborating on providing solutions to his selection headaches.

With plans to promote from within the youth system and scouting Italian prospects from across the peninsula, there is a general hope that in Milan being able to help the Italian national team, the Azzurri can reciprocate it by helping to develop the players on the international stage.

Rumours suggest potential summer moves for the likes of Mattia Perin and Angelo Ogbonna, with Riccardo Saponara and Bryan Cristante also hoping to make an impression next season.

By building an Italian nucleus can Milan benefit as well as the Azzurri? Is it a blueprint for success as shown by Juventus and Barcelona for Italy and Spain respectively?

For all the latest news and views on Milan and Serie A, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty

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