Let the arms race begin.
announced Thursday that teenage sensation , the 18-year-old tipped to assume the throne as the world’s best goalkeeper, will not renew his contract with the club.
"(Agent) Mino Raiola has just told me there will be no extension with Donnarumma and that the decision is definitive," Milan executive Marco Fassoneafter a meeting with the goalkeeper's agent.
“We are bitterly disappointed about the decision, but we move on, Milan move on.”
It’s an unexpected development that has put the world’s marquee sides on high alert; with Donnarumma’s deal set to expire next summer and Milan unlikely to sit idly by and let him leave on a free transfer, it seems the time to strike is now.
Here are three clubs who could make a move:
Likely destination: Real Madrid
, solid as he is, saw his stock bounce around wildly this past season at the Bernabeu; the Costa Rican shot-stopper looked set for the exit as Madrid’s flirtation with raged on, then compounded his problems with a series of gaffes, before closing out the season on a high, if unspectacular, note.
Even if he were to sparkle between the posts, however, his status as one of the least marketable players in the Madrid squad makes him an obvious candidate to be replaced.
There's no denying that Florentino Perez still craves the Galactico signings of yesteryear – even if Zinedine Zidane's more practical approach to using his squad has reaped enormous benefits in the last two seasons. Donnarumma would certainly fulfill Perez's desire to make a splash in the market.
There's also the critical factor of cold hard cash, which Madrid essentially prints. Fassone said Thursday that the offer Donnarumma spurned exceeded the €4.5 million per year that was being reported, which means it will likely take something in the €5-million range to get the gigantic goalkeeper to sign on the dotted line.
That figure – for a teenager, remember – along with the transfer fee that it would take to pry him from AC Milan, means the total financial commitment will be massive, and that immediately rules out all but a handful of European clubs.
Real Madrid, of course, isn’t one of them.
It checks multiple boxes, and almost makes too much sense not to happen.
Controversial switch: Juventus
He couldn’t, right?
Donnarumma – who raged against' propensity to "always" get the calls after a debatable 97th-minute penalty saw Milan suffer a bitter 2-1 loss in Turin this past season – would truly be twisting the knife if he ditched his boyhood club for a team that, aside from , riles Rossoneri fans like no other.
After vigorously kissing the club crest following that encounter, and going on to profess his love for Milan not long before Thursday’s shocking development, a move to Juventus – be it for a handsome sum or, even worse, on a free – would likely be viewed as a slap in the face.
On the flip side, there’s precedent for such a transfer. On multiple fronts.
A renewed ruthless streak means Juventus hasn’t been shy about going theroute and pilfering the best talent from direct title rivals (see: and last summer).
With Milan on the verge of a revival, such a move would fit that M.O.
And, of course, there's thefactor. The iconic 39-year-old is likely to retire at the end of next season, and Donnarumma – already in line to be his replacement with the national team – would be able to step in instantly and extend Juventus' impressive track record of employing Italy's top shot-stopper.
Outside chance: Manchester United
Donnarumma’s surprising decision not to commit his future to the Rossoneri could finally kick into motion a series of events that were simmering for some time, but have cooled of late.
As noted above, Real Madrid has long been afterstar David De Gea – the limber Spaniard would already be plying his trade in his homeland were it not for a blunder involving a fax machine, after all.
It’s speculative at this point, but if, for some reason, Madrid can’t broker a deal for Donnarumma, perhaps a return for De Gea could be on the cards, crafting a path to Manchester for the Italian.
Super-agent Raiola – enemy No. 1 for many Milan supporters at the moment – has a strong recent track record when it comes to facilitating moves to Manchester United;and , both clients of the Italian-born Dutchman, made extravagant switches to Old Trafford last summer.
The Red Devils would, like Madrid, be able to afford such a deal, and the move would see Raiola continue to grow his influence at the club, something the cerebral agent is surely aware of.
(Photos courtesy: Action Images)
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