It has been an up and down journey for Hakan Calhanoglu since joining AC Milan all the way back in the summer of 2017.
As La Gazzetta dello Sport writes, Stefano Pioli had some interesting words to say after the win against Benevento: “Hakan has not yet reached his full potential.” He scored the opening goal that night, and at 27 years of age one would presume that he is approaching his prime years, so it leaves some questions.
The paper writes how anyone who sees the Turkey international in training every day knows that he is a technically gifted and creative player but also a model professional. In his four years at Milan, however, he has been questioned many times.
Back in January 2019, his suitcase was packed and he seemed ready for leaving, with a return to Germany on the cards. One of the reasons why Hakan is still a Milan player today is Rino Gattuso.
Calhanoglu arrived at Milanello in the summer of 2017 when Fassone and Mirabelli, the-then CEO and sporting director, signed him on a four-year deal worth €3m net per season, having been ‘bewitched by the flashes of talent shown by Hakan in the Bundesliga’.
The head coach then was Vincenzo Montella, under whom Calhanoglu never really had a great feeling, but Gattuso came along and promoted the ex-Leverkusen man to a status as permanent starter.
In the winter of 2019 – with the club’s transition from Yonghong Li’s ownership to the Elliott fund completed a few months ago – Milan were struggling with major budget problems which prevented them from investing.
Some sacrifices were required and Hakan had an offer from RB Leipzig, who had more than €20m ready to sign him, but Gattuso was clear was clear: “As long as I coach Milan, Calhanoglu will be fundamental for me.” The move collapsed, nothing came of it, and since then there has been no real talk of a changing clubs, until now.