With just over 12 months to run on his current contract, Milan and Gianluigi Donnarumma find themselves in an all too familiar position heading into the summer.
In 2017, then Milan CEO Marco Fassone announced that the shot-stopper wouldn’t be signing a new deal and so it was expected that he would be sold in order to avoid losing him for nothing a year later.
Fortunately, Donnarumma eventually put pen to paper his commit his future to the club, although it did come after a heavy backlash which created a rift between him and sections of the Milan faithful.
Over time and after countless game-defining performances, the 21-year-old repaired that damage and has further established himself not only as a fundamental figure in this Milan side, but also as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe.
His experience, maturity and quality at such a young age will be difficult to replicate, and having publicly expressed his love for the Rossoneri on several occasions while being one of the faces of the club, there is no doubt over his importance to our future.
“The Rossoneri colours mean a lot to me because I grew up here, I have always been a fan of Milan and I can not help but give my best for this shirt,” he was quoted as saying last month by Calciomercato.
However, here we are again. Back to square one. With his contract set to expire in 2021, Milan are back facing a crossroads with Donnarumma until he either signs a new deal or is sold to avoid seeing him leave on a free transfer.
Sentiment or ambition, which will win?
Perhaps some will disagree, but ultimately Milan have failed Donnarumma and other key players who have been with us in recent years and have done their part.
Season after season we’ve fallen short of getting back into the Champions League, failing to match the ambition of some of our top players, and it looks as though that trend will continue next year too given the current deficit we face with 12 games remaining in the current campaign.
Donnarumma stuck with us last time round, but will he do it again? That is why this effectively now comes down to sentiment and his desire to play for Milan and enjoy success with us, or if his ambition has outgrown that and he believes he’ll have to go elsewhere to achieve what he wants from the game.
He’s still got time on his side as his whole career is still in front of him, but how many more contract renewals can he sign with Milan if we don’t achieve our minimum objectives?
As noted by Calciomercato, speculation remains rife over his future. With no indication that an agreement on new personal terms could be close, the initial obstacles will be convincing Donnarumma to stick with us and accept a salary in line with the club’s wage budget.
Couple that with interest from other top clubs who can perhaps offer a quicker route to success and more money, and the situation becomes increasingly concerning.
From a Milan perspective, we must prioritise finding an agreement on a contract renewal. Donnarumma is a rare talent who is now tightly attached to the Milan badge, it would be a huge shame to see him leave before he’s reached the peak of his powers.
If he is adamant about staying, it’s a major boost for Milan. However, if he can’t reach an agreement and is ready to leave, the Rossoneri must move swiftly and decisively to either agree new terms to strengthen our position at the negotiating table with other clubs or simply sell for as close to his true valuation as possible now.
In 2017, Donnarumma faced a fierce backlash for his initial decision. This time though, while the hope is the same in that he signs a new deal, perhaps he can’t be begrudged of wanting a move especially if Milan can’t offer him the financial and sporting incentives to convince him to stay any longer.