At the time of writing, Gianluigi Donnarumma has not yet signed his contract extension that would reportedly keep him at Milan for the next few years.
Of course, refusal to sign a new deal would ultimately result in the 21-year-old leaving on a free transfer. But why would the young goalkeeper consider leaving in the first place and why could this also be a bad career move for him?
Let’s be clear, we are coming from a Milan point of view here and there is unlikely to be a single Rossoneri supporter who thinks keeping the Italy international is a bad idea, but things are not so simple considering Milan’s current financial situation.
In the last two years CEO Ivan Gazidis – along with the rest of the management team – have been working on reducing the club’s wage expenditure significantly and Donnarumma’s wage (and eventual increase should he re-sign) has definitely been a burden financially.
From Donnarumma’s perspective, we can so far identify two main reasons why he would not want to sign a new contract for the club…
➤ Salary: Whether it’s his wish or that of his agent Mino Raiola, Donnarumma has always requested large sums of money to remain at the club and should he re-sign with an increase in wages he would become the best paid Serie A goalkeeper, as he is currently in second behind Wojciech Szczęsny.
➤ UEFA Champions League: Mino Raiola has reportedly always tried to insert a clause in his client’s contract that should Milan not qualify for the Champions League, clubs could purchase the player at a pre-established release clause. This shows that there is some frustration due to Milan’s failure to qualify for the major European competition since his debut in the 2015-16 season.
That being said, these issues may not be so drastic and by leaving the club, Donnarumma may not be exactly solving these issues (and could also end up creating others).
First of all, at the moment there are no major teams that are actively seeking for a goalkeeper. The only options are PSG and Bayern Munich should they want to find a younger alternative to Keylor Navas and Manuel Neuer. Donnarumma would also have to contend on the market with Kepa Arrizabalaga after falling out of favour with Chelsea following several performances that were not up to par and their subsequent purchase of Édouard Mendy.
With regards to salary, Donnarumma is already the second highest paid goalkeeper in Serie A so the argument certainly cannot be that the player is underpaid. Recent reports have suggested that Milan have offered somewhere around the €7-8m net per year figure while Raiola wants closer to €10m, therefore the two parties are close to finding a financial compromise that suits everyone involved.
The biggest issue that Donnarumma seems to have which is keeping him from signing a new contract is Milan’s ability to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League. Donnarumma was already promised a competitive team that would qualify for Europe’s elite tournament by the previous management team led by Marco Fassone and Massimiliano Mirabelli.
This explains the lack of trust that the young goalkeeper could have in such a promise. The difference this time around is that the club is finally getting the necessary results and considering that the team had a great start to the season and find themselves first in the league, Donnarumma wouldn’t be making a bad choice betting on this team.
Despite all the money and trophies that could tempt Donnarumma, there are other factors that the Milan management can use to their advantage.
Already in the Top 10 list of Milan goalkeepers with the most appearances, Donnarumma is set to break all the appearance records of the club and of Serie A if he decides to be a ‘one-club man’. This would also allow the goalkeeper to cement his legacy at the club as true legend along the likes of Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi.
The current team itself also promises that should we not qualify for the big European competition this season, there is still much room for development and with the financial prowess of Ivan Gazidis and Maldini and Massara’s smart transfer moves there is no doubt that the UEFA Champions League participation is a matter of time.
Let’s just hope it happens sooner rather than later though, because it is a cloud hanging over the club at the moment that we hope will soon turn to white smoke.