Gianluigi Donnarumma entered his second season with AC Milan, and although only 17, he is already the key player at the club.

The teenage sensation emerged as the new Rossoneri goalkeeper last year, and since his debut against Sassuolo on 25 October 2015, Donnarumma is a one of the top performers at San Siro.

The Italian national team had a legendary Gigi Buffon on goal for the previous 19 years; he debuted for Italy when Donnarumma wasn’t even born, but now the youngster seems to be Buffon’s successor, at least in near future.

Donnarumma recorded 82 saves in his 30 appearances for Milan last season, and he should be thankful for the opportunity Sinisa Mihajlovic gave him due to Diego Lopez’s poor form. Although being listed as the 3rd choice keeper behind Lopez and “old timer” Christian Abbiati, Donnarumma got his chance in 2:1 win over Sassuolo, and since then – he remained Milan’s No.1 even after Mihajlovic’s departure later in the season.

Donnarumma will be remembered as the youngest goalkeeper ever to start a match in the history of Italian football, at the age of 16 years and eight months. He came out of nowhere and soon became irreplaceable at Milan’s goal. If there weren’t Milan’s leaky defence, his numbers would be even higher last year. In 30 games in Serie A, Donnarumma conceded 29 goals and recorded 11 clean sheets.

He started the 2016/17 season magnificently; his last minute penalty save against Torino in the opening round of the Calcio secured three points to Rossoneri, and although allowed two goals, Donnarumma played quite well. On Saturday night, though, Donnarumma conceded four goals in a 4:2 defeat at Napoli, but had few fantastic saves, and his defensive teammates seriously let him down with some cardinal mistakes. He did record four interventions, but that wasn’t enough to avoid a loss.

Even when concedes goals, Donnarumma usually makes up for it, and there is no doubt he can be only better as time goes on. After all, he’s only 17 and has plenty of time to learn. Only a few goalkeepers can say they were the key members of their respective clubs this early in career. One of them is Donnarumma’s idol – Gianluigi Buffon.

Gianluigi Donnarumma started his youth career at Napoli before Milan bought him for €250,000 in 2013. His first experience with senior team was when he sat on the bench during a league match under head coach Filippo Inzaghi, aged 15. The Castellamarre di Stabia born keeper capped for Italy U15, U17, and for the U21 side, and it’s evident he will be the No.1 choice for the senior national team in the years to come.

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