Five AC Milan players with the most to prove in the 2016-17 Serie A season

New AC Milan boss Vincenzo Montella stresses the importance of once again qualifying for European play.

As the wait continues for a conclusion to takeover talks at AC Milan, one of the knock-on effects is that it’s stalling movement in the transfer market. The Rossoneri are expected to be active in the coming weeks, but for the time being, new manager Vincenzo Montella is working with what is already at his disposal.

A tough preseason schedule awaits the Italian tactician, with meetings with Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Chelsea ahead. While he has much to prove, there are others within the squad in a similar position.

While Riccardo Montolivo will have to step up if he remains a key man in midfield, Giacomo Bonaventura will need to replicate his form from last season. The pair are joined by numerous individuals who must show Montella that they can play a key role in his plans, as with a new manager comes new ideas and a desire to show their worth.

From youngsters still progressing to expensive signings that will need to repay the faith shown in them by the club, each of these players will need to improve on their 2015-16 campaigns, especially if they’re to keep Montella from adding more players to the squad.

Gianluigi Donnarumma | 17 | Goalkeeper

The shot-stopper emerged as Milan’s first choice between the posts last season after a string of impressive displays helped him displace Diego Lopez. Having shown maturity beyond his years, he’ll want to continue to perform at a consistent level.

However, the pressure will arguably be on him more so this coming season, as he’s set a very high standard for himself. Still just 17 years of age, Donnarumma will hope to prove that last year wasn’t simply a fluke and a glimpse of his potential, but rather proof that he’s around for the long haul.

Alessio Romagnoli | 21 | Centre-back

The former Roma defender arrived at Milan last summer for a significant fee, and he was immediately seen as a future pillar of the club. After a steady first season with the Rossoneri, he’ll need to continue to develop his game and grow into a leader in this team.

After an impressive debut season at the San Siro, Alessio Romagnoli must now prove he can be the bedrock of AC Milan’s defence.

While he would benefit from having a seasoned defensive partner next to him, it will be down to him to reassure Montella that he has a solid base on which to build and emerges as a face of the new era at the club.

Mattia De Sciglio | 23 | Left-back

It wasn’t long ago that De Sciglio was being compared to Paolo Maldini and was seen as an indispensable part of Milan’s future. Injuries and a loss of form and confidence have seen him suffer in a difficult period in his career, but he appears to be back on track after an impressive spell at the end of last season and at Euro 2016 with Italy.

While he still faces competition from Luca Antonelli, he’ll hope to establish himself as the first-choice left-back in the upcoming campaign. And at 23, he’ll certainly learn a lot from that dip last year.

Andrea Bertolacci | 25 | Midfield

Arguably the biggest disappointment at Milan last season, particularly considering how much the club spent on him, it was a year to forget for the Italian midfielder. Despite suffering injury setbacks during the course of the campaign, he was able to show what he is capable of with his industrious nature coupled with his quality on the ball.

However, it was a sight that was far too rare, and with Montella needing midfielders capable of keeping possession, creating chances and dictating the tempo of a game, Bertolacci needs to deliver or could face being axed.

Gianluca Lapadula | 26 | Forward

After scoring 30 goals in 46 appearances in all competitions last season, the former Pescara striker was snapped up by the Rossoneri ahead of numerous other clubs early on this summer. The 26-year-old will hope that he can deliver goals in Serie A too after topping the Serie B goal-scorer charts, and his characteristics suggest that he will flourish at the San Siro provided Montella puts creative players around him.

It’s always a concern as to whether or not a player can cope with the step up in quality that comes with moving up the divisions. Time will tell whether or not Lapadula makes a successful transition.

Sumeet Paul has written for various websites providing Serie A coverage. He can be found on Twitter @SP_Calcio for all things Italian football.

The original version of this story which was published by ESPN can be viewed here.

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