Whether you agree or disagree with the statement that Lionel Messi is the best player in the world at the moment, you can not help but appreciate the Argentine’s natural-born talent. Like only a select few that have gone before him, Messi is in a small band of players who have grabbed the imagination at an early age and have not disappointed ever since. Gifted with incredible close control, vision and technique that they instantly stand out from all the other boys on the park. Scouts know what to look for and are on the look out for the next Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Zinedine Zidane.
There was something about 14-year-old Hachim Mastour that stood out to AC Milan scouts from day one. Mastour, born in Italy to Moroccan parents, has italian football buzzing at the moment and is being touted as Italy’s own Lionel Messi. Mastour started playing football for his local team before being picked up by Reggiana at age 10. Inter Milan were rumoured to be interested at the time and have continued to monitor his progress through the years. Mastour stood out in most of the youth tournaments he played in often picking up the player of the tournament award, and eventually attracted scouts from across Europe including Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester City.
For the boy from Reggio Emilia, the attention was overpowering so his agent Dario Paolillo took centre stage in order to protect the talented youngster. Inter Milan were desperate to sign the player from Reggiana from an early age but due to federal laws they were unable to do so until the kid turned 14. Madrid and City also weighted in the wings for Mastour’s 14th birthday to come around but it was AC Milan, under the guidance of former manager Arrigo Sacchi and Head of the Rossonerri youth setup, Mauro Bianchessi and a special intervention by Milan CEO Adriano Galliani that managed to snatch the youngster from under the noses of the competition and in particular their city rivals, Inter. A fee of $5000,000 was agreed and paid for Mastour who signed on at AC Milan in July of last year.
Whilst the fee is large for a teenager, Mastour’s natural talent and technical ability have impressed the Milan coaching staff, so much so that whilst he plays with the Allevi Nazionali under the careful watch of head coach and former Milan star Filippio Inzaghi, he also trains with the Primavera as well. Milan are keen to accelerate his development as quickly as they can and have even appealed to the Italian FA to make an exception to the rules and allow Mastour to make his first team debut before his 16th birthday.
Anyone in doubt over whether Mastour could cope with the demands of first team football in Serie A need only look at the various clips on YouTube of the starlet juggling an orange plus a ping-pong ball or of his recent Italy Under 15’s debut where he scored a 20 yard screamer and dominated the game with his skills. With close control like Messi, lightning pace like Cristiano Ronaldo and the vision of Zinedine Zidane, Mastour is indeed an exciting prospect for both Milan and Italy. The football world will be keeping a close eye on this talented starlet over the next few years and see if he is destined to become one of the worlds greatest players.
To see Mastour score on his Under 15’s debut for Italy, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7H03kQ4ds9M
To see Mastour display some of his skills with an orange and ping-pong ball, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKF5d76leB0