Kaka reaches 100 as Cristante shines for Milan

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Having struggled through the first part of the season, Milan began the New Year in positive fashion with their 3-0 win over Atalanta on Monday afternoon. While the visitors did cause problems at San Siro, the game produced two significant moments which stood out in particular.

Considered a hero and a club legend by Milan supporters, Kaka continued his impressive form with another two goals which took him beyond 100 goals for the Rossoneri. The Brazilian has been in inspirational form since his return, and he is undoubtedly pushing for a place in the Selecao squad for the World Cup.

- Kaka nets 100th Milan goal

A consistent run in the team, coupled with avoiding injuries, has allowed the 31-year-old to produce what can be described as the best football of his recent career. Having reached his own personal milestone, it is hoped his form will continue in order to help Milan achieve their ambitions this season.

While Kaka represents both the past and present, teenage midfielder Bryan Cristante undoubtedly represents the future of the club. Despite Massimiliano Allegri's sensible protection of the 18-year-old, there is legitimate excitement surrounding the youngster.

Having seen his progress through the youth sector and then with the first-team squad over preseason tours, Cristante's ability has never been in question. However, there were perhaps doubts over whether or not the transition to first-team football would be a success.

In his post-match comments Allegri rightfully used M'Baye Niang as an example, reminding supporters that it is important to control expectations when it comes to young talents. The French striker was considered a phenomenon after his initial performances, but he gradually faded away and has now been sent out on loan.

The hope is that Cristante will not follow a similar path, but his overall play suggests that he should have a bright future with the Rossoneri. While his defensive work perhaps requires improvement, his ability to pass with both feet, regularly pushing play forward and make penetrative runs are all requirements of an all-round modern-day midfielder.

As he has shown previously for the youth teams, he also has an eye for goal and fortunately he was able to stake a serious claim for a regular starting spot with a well-taken goal to make the game safe.

Consistency will be another challenge, but the initial signs are promising and provided the same faith is placed in him moving forward, Milan supporters will hopefully be seeing a lot more from him in the coming weeks.

While Milan may have lived dangerously at times during the win over Atalanta, the game marked a drastic improvement in the enjoyment stakes as a spectacle. The movement and passing was sharp and crisp in the first half, while Mario Balotelli added much-needed flair after replacing Alessandro Matri.

Nevertheless, the day ultimately belonged to both Kaka and Cristante. It has yet to be decided who will replace Allegri in the summer, but it is important that the latter player continues his development and is given room to grow in this Milan team while Kaka continues to be an influential figure for him to learn from.

Has Kaka surprised you with his performances this season? Is the future bright for Cristante?

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

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