Standing at 6 foot 5 (196 cm) and only 17 years old, Gianluigi Donnarumma has already broken into AC Milan‘s first team line-up and has become one of the most highly-regarded goalkeepers in the world, as well as one of Italy’s hottest prospects. After being signed for Milan from Napoli at a sum of €250,000, he was placed in the Rossoneri youth academy, where due to his ability, he was always placed in the age group above him.
In February 2015, he was called up to the first team by then manager, Filippo Inzaghi, and placed on the bench for a Serie A match against Cesena. Due to his age at the time (he was 15 years old), Milan had to get special dispensation from the Italian FA. He was an unused substitute, but this gave Donnarumma the drive to show Milan he was ready to make the jump to the first team.
His persistence was rewarded when, at the beginning of the 2015-2016 season, manager Siniša Mihajlović promoted Donnarumma to the first team full time as third choice goalkeeper under Diego Lopez and Christian Abbiati.
In October of that season, at just 16 years and 242 days old, he was the second youngest goalkeeper to start a Serie A match, helping Milan to a win against Sassuolo. He started the next 3 games for Milan, recording 3 victories. Donnarumma received accolades from Lopez as the future of Italian football and constant praise in the Italian press.
By the beginning of 2016, Donnarumma became first choice goalkeeper of Milan with a new 3-year contract. He scored a 3-0 win over bitter rivals Inter Milan, which only heightened the praise for the young goalkeeper.
He is widely regarded to be the successor to Gianluigi Buffon, with Buffon himself praising Donnarumma’s abilities as a goalkeeper, believing him to have an extraordinary career ahead. Former Italy world-cup winning goalkeeper, Dino Zoff, and former AC Milan goalkeeper, Dida, have also praised the young goalkeeper, theorizing that Donnarumma has the ability to be the best goalkeeper in the world.
For the 2016-2017 season, Donnarumma has continued to be Milan’s first choice goalkeeper. He has continued raising his profile by being called up to the Italian national team, becoming the youngest player to be called up to the senior squad since 1911. He went on to make his debut in a friendly against France, coming on for Buffon at half-time. Unfortunately, he could not prevent a 3-1 home loss.
Donnarumma is also one of the hottest prospects in the FIFA 17 computer game, starting with a 76 rating that can raise up to an 88 rating to become one of the best goalkeepers in the game. The future looks bright for Gianluigi Donnarumma, and for AC Milan.