Dutchman talks about return from injury and young players at the club.
AC Milan midfielder Nigel De Jong has opened up over a number of issues ahead of the new season in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.
The 28-year-old has returned to action after suffering a ruptured Achilles last season, and has produced a string of impressive performances as he grows into a genuine leader at the club.
Given Milan’s strategy of moulding a young squad together as opposed to spending big on established players, De Jong has been able to draw comparisons to his former club Ajax, and believes it is a different and perhaps more sensible way of building for success.
“We are a team in progression,” he told the pink paper as reported by Football Italia. “But when a club decides to focus on youth then you need time.
“This Milan has a model, one like Ajax’s which is based on youngsters, one that gives opportunities to kids.
“Of course if you think about how much some clubs have had to spend to buy established players then you can understand the difference, but you should never give up.
“After all, there is more than one road to take in order to win.”
The Dutchman is expected to line up alongside Riccardo Montolivo at the heart of the Rossoneri midfield this season, and admits that he has been impressed by the atmosphere within the club ahead of the new campaign.
The pressure will certainly be on coach Massimiliano Allegri to deliver this year after their third-placed finish last season, and their Serie A rivals have significantly improved over the summer with a flurry of big name signings.
De Jong admits that Milan still have to work hard and must see how the young players develop over the course of the season, but he has no doubts that they will be competitive both domestically and in Europe.
Whether they can evolve that development into success remains to be seen, but the Dutch international was clear in his view of who the favourites for the Scudetto are:
“Who are favourites for the title? What name is on my shirt? Milan. What else was I going to say…” he concluded.
Reigning champions Juventus remain the team to beat in Italy, but the Rossoneri will certainly be amongst the group of competitive clubs hoping to prevent them from sealing a third consecutive league title.