CM: Maignan, Theo, Leao and the idea of untouchability – Milan’s true intentions

By Oliver Fisher -

Mike Maignan, Theo Hernandez and Rafael Leao stand out as three pillars and world class players in the AC Milan squad, which is why the rumours of interest from abroad have caused some concern.

As recall, the last three seasons have done nothing but reinforce the profound belief within the Rossoneri that Maignan, Theo and Leao are the three main assets of a squad that is young by average age and with still margins to grow.

They are also three fixed points around which to rebuild in view of next season. In the mind of the owner Gerry Cardinale, directors Geoffrey Moncada and Antonio D’Ottavio plus the CEO Giorgio Furlani, raising funds for the summer can come from exits of those who occupy a lower position in the ranking of the untouchables.

However, there is a necessary caveat: as the case of Sandro Tonali demonstrated in the summer of 2023, Milan under RedBird Capital have showed that sporting competitiveness goes hand in hand with financial balance there are no non-transferable players.

Mike Maignan

We begin from what is apparently most delicate situation to date, the one linked to the future of Maignan. He has a contract that expires in June 2026, a salary of €3.2m net per season – far from that of the top players in the role around Europe – and interest from Bayern Munich.

The first proposal of €5m net per season plus bonuses presented by Milan for an extension did not meet the approval of the entourage of the French national team goalkeeper, which aims for a starting base of €8m net per season.

The Rossoneri recognise the importance of Maignan on the pitch and in terms of leadership in the dressing room and will make new attempts, but has already set a starting valuation of €80-90m for the summer if offers come in.

Theo Hernandez

As with Maignan, the first exploratory surveys by Bayern Munich have been recorded for Theo, who are looking for potential replacements for Alphonso Davies given he is increasingly oriented towards going to Real Madrid.

Theo renewed his deal in February 2022 until the summer of 2026 and for him too, Milan are starting to think about the possibility of further extending a bond that has become increasingly stronger over time.

The plan is to agree a new deal until 2029 with a further increase in salary from the current €4.5m net per season plus bonuses. The economic power of Bayern Munich – in addition to their ambition to compete for the biggest trophies – could present difficulty.

However, Milan are asking for no less than €100m for him, recognising his status as the best left back in Europe.

Rafael Leao

We started from a goalkeeper, moved on to a defender and we end with Leao, who in the minds of the Milan leaders represents the most precious gem who is capable of making a difference at any moment.

As he demonstrated during the last league match against Atalanta, the Portuguese winger is the main driving force. Leao has an inestimable value for those who are in charge at Milan today, also because the bond between the parties is deep.

Last year the former Lille man signed a new contract until 2028, bringing his salary to €7m net including bonuses. That, plus the fact he was given the iconic No.10 shirt, was signal was sent to everyone.

Premier League clubs like Chelsea have tried in the past, but there are other teams such as Paris Saint-Germain who are considering making a three-figure big for a player who in their imagination could be the ideal replacement for the departing Kylian Mbappé.

The release clause of €175m is peace of mind, and it means that only huge offers would only bring Milan to the table. The words repeated on more than one occasion and also reiterated by Leao last night suggest he isn’t in a hurry to go: “I couldn’t leave Milan, I see myself here in the future.”

His thoughts echo those of Milan who, barring sensational twists, have already decided: they will start again with Maignan, Theo Hernandez and Leao.

Tags AC Milan Mike Maignan Rafael Leao Theo Hernandez


  1. Welcome to « The ’protected‘ players » on Fox TV. They were four at the beginning, now they’re three, who’s next? Brought to you by Wendy’s and State Farm.

  2. Maignan looks like the most likely one to be sold and I would not be unhappy if we sell him.

    Paying a goalkeeper 8-9 is ridiculous and he’s almost 30yrs old. Carneschi is performing better than Maignan and he’s much younger. Meret will not renew his contract with Napoli and he’s available.

    I would rather sell Maignan so can strengthen the team with a quality striker, CB, DM and RB.

    We need a replacement for Calabria.

    1. You sell maignan, and the value of the tem will reduce. by the time all the quality players we have in the team is sold by then Milan will go back being a mediocre team in the banter Era.
      Is that what you want for Milan??

      How can the management keep selling our quality players just in the name of improving the team, this is rubbish and yet they want to compete for titles next season.

      Since Cardinale took over Milan, he has never invested in the club and that is how you know a week owner of any business. How can you have a business and you don’t want to invest in it before thinking of your profit. Please he should step down for a good owner to take over. he’s just being selfish and greedy.

      1. Is potentially investing close to 1 billion euros on a stadium not an indication of a willingness to invest in the club? The accusations have no basis on fact unless you analyzed the club’s financial records. I am too lazy to do so but I am confident there has been investment made especially in the infrastructure to support the youth and first teams.

        1. That is hilarious that you chose to name yourself Honest Truth and you claim things with no evidence at all and admit that you may have invented it because you’re too lazy hahaha

          In other news Jerry may or may not have cured cancer, I’m too lazy to check.

          1. It has been well documented that the club is investing in a new stadium. This is a fact and cannot be disputed.

            You are nothing but a troll. I have been largely ignoring anything you write but will break my silence by responding to let you know. Looking forward to the day this site lets you block users. Enjoy your personal attacks and wish you nothing but the best in life.

          2. Man I just found it funny, you’re maybe too susceptible. Calling me a troll because I have a different opinion than yours? Man you’ll be crazy when you’ll find out democracy and elections. Calling yourself Honest Trust doesn’t make you a messiah but thanks for your condescending reply anyway.

            It is well documented that Redbird is an investment funds taking shares in companies with high upside so they can resell after a few years and a few investments to make a profit. From there, some here think it’s a good thing because the club will benefit from it, and some others think that these guys just want their money and run, and until then they’re only looking to be « sustainable » without any ambition for trophies.

    2. “Paying a goalkeeper 8-9 is ridiculous and he’s almost 30yrs old. ”

      Keepers are at their best after they’ve reached 30 though and can play a few years longer at the highest level than players on the pitch.

      But I do agree that IF Milan were to sell a start this summer, it should be either Tomori (for 60-70M€) or MM16 and definitely not Theão.

      1. Mike is worth 8mil at a bigger club. On principle though, Milan can’t make their GK (even Mike) their highest paid athlete. I hope they come to a middle ground around 6 + bonuses.

  3. Sorry but Tonali is not at the level of these players mentioned. These players are all within the top 5 at their position. I don’t think anyone could argue that Tonali is among the 5 best midfielders in the world.

    1. I think the question you have to ask would be “Is this player a difference make in his position”.

      Tonali wasn’t. Leao/Theo are. Mike has been solid but lately has been a question mark…

  4. People don’t understand: trades are normal.

    It is normal to sell and buy new one. The team that can every year bring new, young potential, who become huge star in short period of time Is team that in long run can be on top. Borussia Dortmund, Benfica, Ajax…etc.

    Milan goal should always be focused on better replacement, than to think about keeping at any cost stars. Someone offer 175 for Leao? Why not to sell? In 2 seasons for that money you can have first team and good rotation players

    Maignan doesn’t want to extend contract? Someone offer 60 million? Why not to sell?
    Sure there will be some difficulties in beginning but new keeper will be fine. And for 60 Million you can bring a lot of good back up players.

  5. Well, if it were really necessary to make a ‘sacrifice’ in order to finance our next market, with that sacrifice involving one of three aforementioned players, I would certainly choose Maignan. He’s nowadays the easiest one to replace on the same level, and I guess we can grab something like 80 / 90 M for him. All in all, a win / win situation.

    1. Yes, a prem offer of 60m plus for us to sign perhaps Carneschi could be a good move.

      Scalvini would be a great move but Buongiorno and a CF sees us good in my opinion

  6. It’s basically simple. If Redbird are serious about making a Milan that wins titles and create a ‘legacy’ then you keep those three players. A club that wants to do those things strives for young superstars. Rafa and Theo are just that. There is an argument to sell Mike although I’d rather not, he has been superb at times.

    However we are a top coach and 2-3 signings away from being very very good in my opinion. I heard a rumour that United want Reijnders, that’s where we make money, CDK. There’s 80m right there…we have Zeroli coming through and looking good.

  7. previous management maybe fail to sell “contract rebel” players & bought some garbage bcs of salary cap & strict budget but they build a fine core of the team w/ quality players (scudetto & CL semi) they did good buy even in their 1st mercato.
    but now jerry did & will keep sell core players 1by1 (i don’t know why) then bought no one better (no up-grade) not even better impact than Tonali, the best new comer this season (Puli) is still on par w/ CDK (the flop)

    i know they can sell our great (core) players Leao, Mike, Theo, Tonali,
    i know MnM fail to sell Gigio, Hcan’t, Ke$ie, origi,
    but till now, they didn’t do any great buy even after 200m+
    just bcs they can (sell) doesn’t mean they must, esp if they can’t buy great players

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