Manchester City have reportedly taken a step ahead of Europe’s elite clubs in the race for AC Milan’s 17-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

 

Italy’s reputable media outlet Sky Italia (h/t MCFCwatch) have claimed that Manchester City have made significant progress in the race for Gianluigi Donnarumma’s signature. Sky Italia journalist Alessandro Alciato suggests in the report that the English club have taken ‘important steps’ towards signing the young Italian and a bid for the player could be imminent.

Donnarumma made his debut for Milan last season at the age of 16 and has since emerged as arguably the best young prospect in his position. Not surprisingly, the teenager has attracted the attention of almost every European elite, including Barcelona and Real Madrid. Among the English clubs, Manchester United and Chelsea are said to be very keen on the player, but it seems Manchester City have raced past their Premier League rivals.

Already standing at 6ft 5in, the teenage stop-stopper has earned the reputation as the rightful successor to the throne of the legendary Gianluigi Buffon, thanks to his authoritative displays in the past 18 months.

Even at this tender age, Donnarumma has established himself as the undisputed first choice goalkeeper for Milan. The Italian has been in fine form this season, having kept the joint-highest clean sheets (5) in the Serie A thus far. He was particularly impressive against champions Juventus, helping Milan win for the first time in nine games against their traditional rivals.

Juventus' goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (L) hugs AC Milan's goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma after the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan versus Juventus on October 22, 2016 at the San Siro Stadium in Milan. / AFP / MARCO BERTORELLO (Photo credit should read MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images)

Juventus’ goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (L) hugs AC Milan’s goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma after the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan versus Juventus on October 22, 2016 at the San Siro Stadium in Milan. (Photo courtesy – MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images)

Pep Guardiola demands that his team play out from the back, for which a goalkeeper with the ability to pass comfortably with his feet is of utmost importance. Joe Hart was moved on by the Spaniard for the same reasons.

Donnarumma was known for his ball-playing abilities in his Milan youth days, but he hasn’t really replicated it with the first team, mainly due to the fact that Milan do not necessarily insist on playing out from the back. However, considering his young age, Pep Guardiola could mould the player to fit his football philosophy.

Manchester City’s current goalkeeping options consist of 33-year-old Claudio Bravo and 35-year-old Willy Caballero, with Joe Hart’s future at the club very much in question. As such, it is easy to understand why the club would want to bring in Gianluigi Donnarumma. It is worth adding, however, that it will probably take a world record fee for Milan to consider the sale of their most prized asset.