Since 17-year old wonderkid Gianlugi Donnarumma replaced Diego Lopez back in October, the stout Italian under-21 starter has been nothing short of brilliant in goal for the Rossoneri. European clubs have been on high alert and appear to preparing their assault for the prized asset of A.C. Milan.
According to British tabloid Daily Mail, London-based giants Chelsea are ready to launch a bid to bring in Donnarumma to replace Thibaut Courtois should they sell him off this summer as the Belgian’s reportedly reluctant to pledge his allegiance to the club. Several other sources have claimed that Manchester United, who supposedly had a large bid in the region of €40m rejected by Milan in January, has joined the race for the Mino Raiola-represented Italian, along with Spanish powerhouses Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Now of course, once the British paper published this article, it spread like wildfire, particularly amongst rowdy supporters of Milan on Twitter. Many individual accounts made a mockery of the news, calling out it’s falsity; just another sketchy rumor with no substance to cause chaos (after all, we are on international break. Can you blame them for this publication?) Anyway, while many made light of the rumor due to the unreliability of the source, it did stir up quite the conversation amongst fans of not just the red and black, but of Serie A as well. In a sense, it has an effect on the future of the national side. Fans of Italian calcio would love to have the country’s best stay and grow rather than move abroad (i.e. Marco Verratti at Paris Saint-Germain). Even those who support the likes of Napoli, Juventus, Roma and Inter have witnessed – and applauded – the excellence and rapid success of Donnarumma. They’d prefer to keep the domestic talent here and have the best representing the Nazionale evolve in the Italian peninsula.
Each individual dealing is approached by several different Milan supporters: the realist, pessimist and the optimist. The realist identifies the track record; past facts and events of the club involving somewhat similar situations, along with the current state of the club, before coming to a conclusion. From this viewpoint, you understand the club’s financial troubles (a reported €91m loss from 2014), the illogical approach to the transfer window and the tyrannical owner Silvio Berlusconi. The pessimist anticipates the worst and unsatisfactory outcomes, which in this case would be just selling Donnarumma well before his prime and failing to invest back into the club this summer. Then there is the optimist which – shockingly – exists too much nowadays inside the fanbase. Not that there is anything wrong with positivity and wishing for the best. What kind of fan would you be if you didn’t? It’s just there are some who, despite all that’s become of the club, believe in Berlusconi and give him too much leash. Berlusconi, who celebrated his 30 years of ownership this month, was quoted by Premium Sport:
Donnarumma is [at that time] 16 years old; he is admired by all and he won’t leave Milan, whatever offer might come in. He will be the Milan goalkeeper for the next 20 years.”
Recent history shows that Silvio cannot be trusted when it comes to the future of some of the top players the club has held. In summer 2012, while in the midst of a financial heartache, the club sold Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to Paris Saint-Germain for roughly €60m, this coming off a near repeat for the Serie A title the season before. The Brazilian centre-half repeatedly stresses that he wished to remain at the club and never forced a transfer, but that merely meant nothing to Silvio who made a valiant effort to balance the books by pawning off two of his most valued assets. Then there is the sale of Riccardo Saponara after just eight appearances for the club, which is simply too easy to attack at this point. It’s done and over with, but ever so often, it needs to pulled from the vault in order to make a point. Getting back on track, the point is that the future of Donnarumma isn’t so cut and dry.
There is no debating Gigio’s talent. His lengthy 6 foot 5 frame, imposing presence in net – at the youthful age of 17 – and pure God-given ability are a rarity in this era, or any for that matter. Through 22 starts for current 6th place Milan, Donnarumma has tallied eight clean-sheets to go along with an impressive 0.77 goals/match rate making him practically untouchable by today’s standards when presented with the entire picture. But, when discussing the future of Donnarumma at Milan, it’s not as simple to predict. The club could yet again miss out on Champions League football and the riches that come along with qualifying with a top-three finish. Many times, clubs are handcuffed into shopping their in-demand stars in order to recuperate financially from an unfulfilling campaign, which has become a major issue for the Italian giants. It’s also understood that while Donnarumma has expressed his desire to stay on with his dream club at the San Siro, super-agent Mino Raiola represents him and we all know what effect that has on the transfer front. Sure, Raiola and Milan have a strong bond when it comes to players’ future. Along with Donnarumma, Raiola represents Mario Balotelli, Rodrigo Ely, Ignazio Abate and Giacomo Bonaventura however, those men are not a 17-year old potential heir to Gianluigi Buffon’s throne in Italy. Again, this is a complex scenario for Milan, and their supporters, to be in.
Of course, the thought of selling him is ludicrous. Yet, fans of the club (the majority at least) have learned that logical thinking and reasoning does not apply to Milan’s dealings. They often go against the grain, even if it comes at the price of enraging their most valued investors: the supporters. Unfortunately, this is no career mode in FIFA 16. We don’t hold the fate of our youngsters in our battered and bruised Playstation controller. We are devoted supporters on the sidelines, crossing our fingers with every impending transfer window, holding on for dear life that we don’t end up disappointed and with one-less potential superstar.