Essien signing disregards Milan youth policy

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Michal Sula/isifa/Getty ImagesMichael Essien will call the San Siro home for the next 18 months after joining Milan from Chelsea.

The January recruitment drive continues for Milan this week, with former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien being presented to the media on Tuesday afternoon. While the 31-year-old is a solid signing that hopefully still has something to offer, it is perhaps time for the club to stop humouring supporters with their talk of a youth policy.

- Report: Milan move a dream for Essien

Sceptics suggest that Essien's best years are behind him, as after injury woes with his knee, the Ghanaian international is unable to reach the level of performance he displayed during his time in London.

While he has been signed to replace Antonio Nocerino, which is in itself an upgrade, his reported three million euro salary next season is another cause for concern with regards to the financial management of the club.

Nevertheless, he will provide competition and cover in the deep-lying midfield role in the 4-2-3-1 system where Riccardo Montolivo and Nigel De Jong currently operate. With upcoming suspensions in Europe, he could prove to be a valuable asset, as the Rossoneri look to obtain significant revenue, namely through TV income, as the only remaining Italian side in the Champions League.

However, therein also lays the problem. The signing of Essien is a short-term solution, and with Clarence Seedorf and Milan promising a bright future as the Dutchman looks to guide the club into a new cycle of success, they should be looking further ahead than merely the next year and a half.

Since Barbara Berlusconi became a more prominent figure in the front office, she has consistently spoken about the need to maximize the potential of the club's youth sector, and ultimately create a conveyor belt of talent that is promoted to the senior squad.

Through the likes of Mattia De Sciglio, Bryan Cristante and Stephan El Shaarawy, the latter being acquired as opposed to being developed internally, it would have seemed as though the blueprint for success was evident given their performances.

De Sciglio was heralded as the new Paolo Maldini, Adriano Galliani insisted that Cristante was the new midfield signing and El Shaarawy was considered a symbol of the club moving forward.

Instead, Milan have returned to experience through the signings of Kaka and Essien, and while they are still capable of performing at the highest level, it makes a mockery of the initial plan to trust in youth.

Figures were released on Tuesday, which revealed that Juventus had spent 213.8 million euros assembling their squad, while in contrast Milan had invested just 91.2 million euros. Instead of fishing around for loan deals and free transfers, surely the more logical strategy would be to invest in the youth sector and find untapped talent through the scouting system?

All of Berlusconi's ideologies are arguably being ignored at this point, and quite frankly it is beyond baffling as to which direction the club are heading.

Understandably, they want to salvage what they can from this season and put themselves in a position this summer for Seedorf to rebuild and start the process over.

However, if they are unable to compete financially, then rather than ignore the model adopted by the likes of Ajax and Bayern, which Berlusconi apparently studied at great length, they should be embracing it and building for the future.

All parties concerned have the best interests of the club at heart, but it is becoming clear that the emphasis is being shifted away from developing youth within the club. With a fresh start under Seedorf, the club are ultimately missing out on an opportunity to build for the future and are slowly undoing the good work laid down last year.

What do you make of the moves in the transfer market? Agree they are too short-term or are they the most sensible option to be competitive?

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

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