On Thursday, A.C. Milan’s Hachim Mastour and Malaga came to an agreement to end the two-year loan deal prematurely, the Spanish side confirmed through their official Twitter account. The teenager has been set free and will report to the club’s training ground Centro Sportivo Milanello; question is will he be staying?
Last summer, the 18-year old prodigy was loaned out to the La Liga club on a two-year loan deal, despite having supposed interest come in from Paris Saint-Germain. Unlike what we’ve seen in the past with Milan’s youngsters, the move did not include a buyout clause, which was applauded by supporters. The fanbase has been keeping tabs on his progression under the guidance of Pippo Inzaghi and Cristian Brocchi these past few years with the Primavera, anxiously awaiting his first senior cap. While it was obvious that Mastour possessed ability and flair, it was understood that he was also a raw product in need of further development, thus initiating a loan to Spain.
With Malaga last season, Mastour disappointingly did not receive the necessary minutes he so desperately needed. In fact, he only managed five minutes of total action, which puts him a year behind with his development. You could make a strong argument that he should have stayed put with the Primavera and grown amongst a group of talent or perhaps even served a stint with a club in the lower tiers of Italian football, but that’s now irrelevant. Under Siniša Mihajlović, Gianluigi Donnarumma was thrusted into the starting eleven at the youthful age of 16. The pressure did not faze the star keeper as he was among the elite of Serie A at his position. The ex-Milan coach was praised for allowing Donnarumma the chance to shine on such a big stage, but Mihajlović is no longer in the picture, and that same opportunity may not present itself for the class of ’98 playmaker with a new face at the post.
Vincenzo Montella has been appointed manager of the Rossoneri and it seems that he will be given much more to work with than any coach before him with talks of a sale by Silvio Berlusconi. With the expectation that the Italian club cements themselves on the open market under new ownership, it raises uncertainty for some fringe players, including Mastour, who would fall deeper down the depth chart with the influx of fresh blood.
The Moroccan international was signed under the control of Berlusconi back in 2012 from Reggiana for approximately €500,000, but if the Chinese consortium completes the takeover, it could result in an exodus at the San Siro club.
For Mastour, there is still much in his favor aside from adolescence. His dribbling and ball control are off the charts, however his impressive Youtube videos juggling alongside Neymar have supporters pegging him as nothing more than a “freestyler.”
With the Primavera, he has shown short-lived spurts of being a creative playmaker, one who can be deployed in several roles within the attack which helps his chances of finding minutes. Montella is a manager who often shifts between several tactical setups: three in the back, four in the back, a three-man attack or two strikers to mention a few. A player of Mastour’s ability could fit the scheme(s) the former Fiorentina coach wishes to implement, but the playing time required for him and his growth is far from guaranteed.
Upon the mutual termination of the two-year loan, MilanNews.it reported that Mastour wishes to depart the Lombard club on a permanent basis, with Palermo said to be interested in his signature. The Sicilians, who barely avoided the drop to Serie B last season, are set to lose both Franco Vázquez and Alberto Gilardino and have few assets at the club capable of making an impact next season. This makes Palermo a sensible destination for Mastour who could greatly benefit from playing in Italy and with a club who could likely guarantee him playing time as they seek reinforcement. Currently, the Rosanero are the only reported club courting the teenager, but as news spreads of his desire to leave, you can expect more clubs from all ranks to contact Adriano Galliani about his availability.
As we near a Milan club without Silvio Berlusconi, and one which could explore bigger dreams out on the market, many players’ futures hang in the balance. Mastour does possess quality which, in time, could translate over to top-flight football, but until he gets the chance to display it, he’s nothing more than another hyped prospect.
All signs point to Mastour putting on the shirt of a new club next season, without having a single senior appearance to his credit.