A different proposition to last season's experienced crop, AC Milan's fresh-faced youngsters represent a "long-term project" for the club, according to Philippe Mexès.
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Buoyed by AC Milan's transition from a team orchestrated by elder statesmen to one inspired by vibrant youngsters, Philippe Mexès is convinced a bright future lies in store for the Rossoneri.
Milan lost a whole host of experienced figures last summer, with the likes of Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta and Clarence Seedorf moving on. Rather than wallow in the past, though, Massimiliano Allegri's team have bounced back, invigorated by the emergence of fresh faces such as Stephan El Shaarawy and Mattia De Sciglio.
"It is a new generation, and it's a pleasure as they are still inexperienced but they bring something extra to the team," said Mexès, a relative veteran at 30. "They can bring a lot of things to the team, this new generation is very enthusiastic. They also demand a lot in training as they are very lively, and it's doing good to all of us in the team. Milan can count on them as this is a long-term project."
Next up for Mexès and his younger colleagues are FC Barcelona, who knocked them out of last season's quarter-finals. Mexès featured in both legs of that 3-1 aggregate defeat yet is confident of a different outcome this time around.
"I think it will be open until the end," the French international said. "We are the underdogs but we believe in ourselves. Although the team is pretty young compared with last year, and now it's a different Milan, we are still Milan and we will go for it."
Click on the video player above to see the Mexès interview in full.