Despite all of the positive vibes emanating from Casa Milan this offseason, the saga surrounding Gianluigi Donnarumma’s contract extension has been a consistent thorn in the side of the new management since they assumed operation of the club back in April.
By now we all know the players in this saga; there is Donnarumma, arguably the most exciting young talent on the planet, there is his agent, the outlandish Mino Raiola, and then there is the duo of Milan’s CEO Marco Fassone and sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli, who are desperately trying to convince their young phenom to extend his stay at the San Siro past next summer when his contract is due to expire.
To this point Donnarumma and Raiola have played it coy, neither confirming or denying their intention to depart the Rossoneri for greener pastures. The stalemate was broken last week when Mirabelli and Fassone travelled to Montecarlo to meet with Donnarumma and Raiola, and presented them with a Don Corleone style “offer that they can’t refuse” of €5 million per season, net of taxes. That salary would make the 18 year old the third highest paid shot-stopper in world football, behind only Bayern’s Manuel Neuer, and Manchester United’s David De Gea. Donnarumma and Raiola reportedly expressed their desire to evaluate the offer and communicate their response at some point during this coming week, a decision that has certainly caught the ire of the fanbase.
Some have questioned Donnarumma’s loyalty to the club for not signing such a significant offer on the spot, while others have blamed his agent Mino Raiola for creating a tenuous and toxic environment that will make it easier for him to engineer a move away from Milan and collect a significant amount of commission in the process.
While it’s easy to overreact to Raiola’s history, and balk at the notion of an 18 year old needing to think before signing a contract that would pay him €5 million a year, it’s important to consider the nuts and bolts of this negotiation. Gigio Donnarumma is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, age aside; and if Milan refuse to pay him what he feels he is worth, then there will be a long line of clubs ready to present him with a blank cheque. With this in mind, consider that Donnarumma pays Raiola to get him the best contract he can get from a club that Donnarumma wants to play for. Milan’s offer has already increased from €3.5 to a reported €5 million, so if Donnarumma does sign an extension with the Rossoneri it’s safe to say that Raiola did a magnificent job on Donnarumma’s behalf. It would also signal Donnarumma’s intention to stay at the club, and the club’s intention to step up and pay fair market value for the biggest asset they have had since Ricky Kaka almost 10 years ago.
Now, all of this is of course completely moot if Donnarumma decides to leave Milan, and if that is in fact the case it’s incredibly difficult to fault Milan for the way that they conducted business. An annual salary of €5 million per year would be an unprecedented amount for a player so young, and it’s difficult to justify that Milan should go any higher with their offer when the legendary Gianluigi Buffon earns “just” €4 million in salary. In addition to the important financial commitment, Milan look to be making a commitment to building a strong team in front of Donnarumma as well. The transfer window has yet to officially open and Milan have already signed important players like Mateo Musacchio and Franck Kessie, with Ricardo Rodriguez and Lucas Biglia said to arrive imminently. If Donnarumma is not convinced by Milan’s project it’s difficult to understand what it is he needs to see, as Milan have certainly been the boldest and busiest club on the transfer market to this point.
All of this is to say that at this point it’s important to reserve judgement on either of the three main players in the negotiation. To this point Raiola has played this negotiation exquisitely, as he has gotten Milan to make an unprecedented offer to his client. Donnarumma clearly desires to be paid like the top goalkeeper that he is, and Milan’s offer as it stands would do just that. Finally, Milan have done all that they can to show Donnarumma that they are committed to him both in an economic manner and a sporting manner.
All of these factors combine to create an environment that looks like it would be appealing for Donnarumma to commit himself to for the long-term. If Donnarumma wants to go chase an extra few euros he can get that at another club, and if he wants a new experience he can do that as well, but if that is the case, it would be no fault of the club or his agent. All that’s left to do now is to wait and see, but whatever the outcome, the decision rests entirely with Gigio Donnarumma.