Cost-based analysis and the Leao precedent: Why Maignan is more likely to leave than Theo Hernandez

By Oliver Fisher -

There has been some rather worrying talk in the media about the potential sale of Theo Hernandez this summer but Mike Maignan is a far more realistic candidate to leave, according to what we have learned.

As our colleagues at write, the financial situation that Milan finds itself in is positive. The data on the growth of the brand’s value and the self-sustainability process carried out by Elliott Management and then continued by RedBird Capital have been clear to see.

The Rossoneri recorded a profit for the first time in well over a decade in the last accounts published, and the positive economic work is enough in itself to guarantee Milan an ambitious summer transfer window without the need to make big sales.

That has many fans asking a rather obvious question: why is there constant talk of Theo Hernandez and Maignan being potential candidates to leave the club in a big-money move? We can try to explain it.

The player trading model

The two French players both have contracts expiring with the Rossoneri in 2026, therefore in two years’ time, and are negotiating an extension with Milan.

Both Theo and Maignan have asked the management for a substantial increase in salary which reflects their status as elite players in their role, but it would affect the internally imposed ‘salary ceiling’ at Milan, forcing reflections.

For Rafael Leao this type of reasoning was not valid, because they believed his new salary of €5m net per season plus €2m in potential bonuses is fair market value. Leao, due to his age and role, has a price tag that even in the worst case is unlikely to fall below €100m.

This is a crucial reason in the management’s development of the idea of ​​renewing the contract of any player. To simplify, it is a cost-based analysis which takes various factors into consideration.

By transferring this type of reasoning to Theo and Maignan, things change. Both ask for wages equal if not higher than that of Leao, but here the management’s judgment is divergent. The duo are both highly regarded, that goes without saying, but to what extent?

Between the two, the one who is closest to Leao in terms of importance and level is certainly Theo Hernandez. The French full-back is 26 years old and is already considered one of the best in the world in his role, attracting links with Real Madrid, Manchester City and Bayern Munich.

As with the Portuguese, Theo – in the worst case scenario – would have a valuation that would almost certainly not fall below Milan’s minimum requests of €70-80m, especially given how few elite level left-backs are around.

Milan’s player trading model is somewhat unique in Italy because they do not have to sell anyone to pay the bills, but the Sandro Tonali case shows us that there will always be clubs out there that can offer way above what is fair market value.

Saudi clubs and Premier League sides – in that case Newcastle United, who are PSI-owned – have the spending power to match virtually anyone in the world at the moment and they were willing to meet Milan’s price. It doesn’t happen for every player, though.

The eagle could leave the nest

It is a different story for Maignan. Partly due to the position he plays and partly because of the physical problems that have plagued his recent seasons, he has a fluctuating and potentially more problematic market valuation.

Paying the former Lille man between €6-8m net per season would be a costly investment for Milan which could also lead to a domino of problems. First of all it would raise the club’s salary cap and secondly it would create a precedent that would be difficult to erase when it comes to the renewal of other players.

A bit like what happened with Leao, the contract signed last summer has now allowed Maignan and Theo to be able to aim for a clear figure while being able to count on an existing comparison, one that Milan’s own quality-price ratio established.

As mentioned, for Milan the renewals of Hernandez and Maignan do not start on the same basis: the management would be willing to make a greater financial sacrifice for the full-back than for the goalkeeper.

For this reason, Milan are concretely thinking of selling Maignan in the summer, but at the right price. We believe €70m is the figure considered ‘adequate’ by Milan who obviously hope for a potential auction to be sparked.

No offers have been received for Maignan, but the upcoming European Championship could play a key role. The strategy of Milan is to take advantage of the tournament to re-establish Maignan’s market valuation at a reasonable figure and subsequently evaluate the offers.

He remains on the radar of big clubs. Ligue 1 transfer expert Jonathan Johnson claimed in the past few days that Mike Maignan is of interest to a number of clubs in view of the summer window, including Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

With the sale of the goalkeeper, the club would also have the possibility of generating a very important capital gain. Maignan was in fact purchased for just over €15m in summer 2021, with around €6m left in residual value after three years of amortisation.

The feeling is that the choice has been made: the real potential departure for the Diavolo in the summer is Maignan. Having arrived to replace Gianluigi Donnarumma, him leaving amid a contract impasse would carry a certain degree of irony.

Tags AC Milan Mike Maignan Theo Hernandez


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  1. Ironic yes, it is even more predictable and to be expected. This management has proven, they have no qualms in letting go of top talent to spread the cost and dilute the strength of the team.

    Homestly, the amounts we’d need to spend to match Inter in the next 3 years, will make it impossible to achieve. They know they won’t come close. Then in Europe. They’ll be betting on luck of draws to hopefully advance to get easy money.

    Elliot and Redbird have proven, that is their only intent. Beating Inter won’t happen any time soon. They have assets all over the field, in multiples, ie all positions that surpass us, selling 2 or three of their assets, they still have backs ups in the team who are better or as good as our best options. Juve, Napoli, Roma, all spend as much as we do and are still capable of beating us on any given night. Which means, in the league, as long as we are good enough to beat either of those 3 and lower classified sides in one offs, there will be no big investments. That means in renewals or purchases.

    Their caps cost us Hakan, Donnaruma, Kessie, Thuram and Dybala. They have shown they are capable, willing and destined to keep repeating the same mistaskes. That is stupidity, beyond irony.

    1. This 👆…… doesn’t make much sense to me. Forget the spreading the cost to dilute the strength of the team bit – what do you mean “This management has proven, they have no qualms in letting go of top talent…”? You mean like every other club on earth? Inter let go of Brozovic and won the league. Napoli sold Kim and didn’t win the league. Juve might be selling Chiesa etc etc But when we do it it’s a crime…

        1. Yep – I loved Tonali as much as the next guy but there’s not much we can do if he’s okay with leaving. I get the feeling he wanted to help us out and knows he’ll come back some day but who knows.

      1. Bro bashin after only one sentence. Lol

        Its definetly a crime for EVERYCLUB. But they redeem it by sign equal or better quality player. You can ask your self, who your club got after losing Hakan, Kessie or tonali.

          1. Besides Pulisic who has been a pleasant surprise, and who could have been brought without selling Tonali and maybe for cheaper considering that Chelsea was so desperate about getting rid of him, the other starters brought in are no different from Kévin Constant or Lucas Biglia. We lost quality in the starting eleven, again it’s quantity over quality. Now let’s see if one of Reijnders or Loftus-Cheek can turn into 70M€ players.

          2. Wow. Are you SERIOUSLY saying RLC & Reijnders is at Biglia & Konstant levels???? Wow. I’ve never really valued your opinions before but this… Just… Wow.

          3. It is useless bb . He only want oil kingdom as owner, he hate american or chinese owner. So what ever this american owner buy ,he will always say it is same level with banter era player like jamal mesbah ,taiwo,konstant,biglia,vergara,cerci,destro,bertolacci etc . He will comment everyday spreading toxic about owner out but he forget no oil kingdom sultan interesting to buy italian club. PIF even say : italian league have bad structure and income too low . Investcorp ??Thats only similar company with Redbird just investment corporation. Even if this owner buying haaland( before he moving to salzburg and not famous yet) , he will say haaland just have same quality with destro

        1. Um we just had out best mercato in years thanks to Tonali sale…. And Hakan and Kessie left for free… hardly “selling our top assets” as chrisp was claiming.

        2. You mean last season when hakan leave and they replace him with king CDK as AMF ?? Scoring 0 goal as AMF ? And because they dont want to sell any player and use most budget on superstar like CDK that make ACM cannot buy midfield and depend on krunic as DMF while you can sign dybala free transfer for AMF ( hakan replacement)and use that budget for DMF ?

    2. Selling top player is certainly better than letting them go on free. All the top clubs doing it, including the very best like Barca, Madrid, Liverpool, etc. Especially when the player himself wanted to go, there’s not much you can do.

      Just look at Mbappe this year… he gave up on 80m per year because he don’t want to stay at PSG. That’s because the owner don’t want the player to go at all cost and basically trying to force him to sign. Same case with our Donnarumma, Hakan, and Kessie. They don’t want to extend their contract. They should’ve been sold at least one year before, maybe except Kessie case where he bring us the scudetto.

      Selling them will give us some money to find replacement, and sometimes the sell is what fuel the club to glory.

      1. You’re comparing Mbappé who left his club because it’s poorly managed and doesn’t allow him to compete on the big stage to our players who left because we are a cheap club with a tight salary cap. Other top clubs don’t sell their players because they don’t want to extend them and they don’t sell their best midfielder when they have Adli, Pobega and Krunic on the roster. People will say that Tonali was not a top player, let’s see who is ready to splash 70M for Reijnders or Loftus-Cheek now.

          1. The thing is, we can get Pulisic without the sale of Tonali. With Tonali being around, there’s no need to over spent at those all box to box ball carrier familiar character players in RLC, Tijani, and Musah.

            And Pulisic had been targeted by for quite awhile by Maldini, so he’s not a new name.

          2. “Either way I prefer Bennacer, Reijnders, Loftus-Cheek, Musah than Bennacer, Tonali, Krunic.”
            That’s why Tonali, Bennacer and Krunic have won a scudetto and reached UCL semi-finals, while Reijnders, Loftus-Cheek and Musah have been overrun by every respectable side we faced.

          3. We were in the same group as the two teams that reached the semi-finals in the UCL, and we were eliminated on goal difference. In Serie A, we went from 5th to 2nd place. It was Tonali, Bennacer, and Brahim Diaz who won the Scudetto and reached the UCL semi-finals.

          4. And with Bennacer and Pobega out for a long time this season due to injury, if Tonali, Adli, and Krunic were in the starting lineup with all the reserves being Primavera players, do you think Milan could have done better than they did this season?

          5. @bunbun
            We were gonna lose Tonali anyways to his gambling addiction, and it’s not that I think that selling him was necessarly a mistake, but neither Reijnders, nor Loftus-Cheek and especially not Musah was an upgrade to Tonali, especially considering we reverted back to a 4-2-3-1. Loftus-Cheek is a mezzala who is being used as a support striker and has 0 creativity and Musah was a disaster this season. The only decent one was Reijnders who can’t defend either. All of them were absent during big games.
            If we were to redo the summer transfer after the Tonali sale, I wouldn’t have gone for either of them.

          6. Yeah, I don’t think Musah was good either. But I’m talking about the decision to sell Tonali and use the money to strengthen the depth of the MF. That would have been a good choice even if Musah and Loftus-Cheek weren’t the best options, because our midfield depth was so poor, even if Tonali was not a gambling addict.

          7. Musah, Reijnders and RLC were overrun by every respectable side? Is PSG not a respectable side? Because that midfield ran over PSG…

  2. Americans did show that they count on sales of players at right time moment.
    It is difficult predict what would happen but at certain point and eventually they are going to sell almost all today stars.

  3. Maignan should have been the one sold last summer but Tonali beat him to it once he saw the salary offer from Newcastle ans couldn’t wait to accept it. And I don’t blame him 1 bit. Going from 2.5 to up to 9 mil a season is hard to turn down.
    Hindsight being 20/20 selling Tonali was a masterpiece.
    When it comes to Maignan, no team is paying 70 mil for him. The Euros will hardly help his value to raise because he is playing on by far the biggest favorite to win the tournament. The Euro’s can only lower his value if he performs the way he did for Milan this season.
    Theo Is the most important player at Milan and the only one who if sold will be very hard to replace. Make him the highest paid player on the team and lock him down long term.
    If Maignan wants more than 5 mil a season sell him. Maybe you can get 50 mil for him. The same things we know about him when it comes to his injuries other teams know as well. Some team will have to be really desperate to buy a GK for Maignan to go for big money, and I don’t see a team desperate like that out there.
    For PSG to buy him they need to sell Donnarumma and they already bought a GK for 20 mil, Safonov.
    ManCity might be interested in Maignan IF Ederson leaves.
    There is not much of a market for Maignan so the 70 mil valuation is ludicrous.

    1. 70M for Maignan, or any goalkeeper for that matter doesn’t make much sense to me either.
      Honestly I’d take any offer north of 40M for Maignan, this should more than enough to get a new goalkeeper and increase our budget for the positions we need the most, as in the striker and the defensive midfielder and of course renewing to Theo.

      1. 40 million is too low price for Ac Milan. Because, club gain 50+ million per year only by qualifying for Champions League competition. So, Maignan is more valuable to stay on bigger salary, than cheap sale…

    1. you have to sell players to pay players. If previous management had solid the players they couldn’t sign (donnurumma, kessie, hakan) then the team would have at least 150M more to spend on salaries…over the last 5 years, Milan has lost 260M in the transfer market while inter has made money in the market…that is why inter can pay 260M more in salaries…it all comes down to revenues and costs…previous mistakes created a big hole to dig out of…

      1. Sorry didn’t mean that as a direct reply but I think there are some teams that would value mikes ball playing very highly…especially teams who dominate possession which are usually the good teams which are usually the ones with money to spend.

          1. there are plenty of teams with plenty of money…Mike’s ball playing ability in the build up is a huge asset…its like having an extra player on the field…and when man city does something, everyone copies…teams will overpay to copy their methods…

  4. Nobody can pay 70 million. There is a crackdown on transfers in the Premier league. Manchester City is facing the real prospect of relegation.

    At most 45-50 million is what we can get. A goalkeeper is replaceable. A world class LB is not.

  5. Maignan isn’t doing himself any favors with his requests given his injury record. I don’t even know if it’s Maignan asking for high wages or his agent, but neither has any ground to stand on. His agent should understand that and if he is ignoring that then he isn’t doing Maignan any favors…

  6. And what about Maignan’s replacement? No mention at all of that!!!! Once Maignan leaves, you can be sure that the asking price of every goalkeeper that we approach will go up by 150% in a couple of hours.

    1. Yeah if we had say Di gregorio on the way then it makes sense, otherwise we might need to spend all the €€ from Maignan’s transfer fee on his replacement! Which kinda defeats the point of the sale 😆

      But in general I agree with the sentiment, given his position and injury record, Maignan is more expendable

      Personally I would prefer some continuity, so evolution rather than revolution. Let’s keep the core together for another season and bring in a small number of high quality targeted signings.

  7. Would prefer it be Mike over theo, if one has to go. Theo will be almost impossible to replace, especially for these clown owners. Mike will hurt, but for 40-50 mil a good keeper can be gotten. We need to focus on getting a St, CDM, and a CB if anyone else leaves. Plus a deputy for theo

  8. Hernandez, with a long contract, is also worth 100m+

    But ultimately, if one has to go it should come down to which one has the most appropriate replacement (s) for lined up by the club. When Donnarumma left there was a clear succession plan in place that was lacking for Jessie. For Tonali too, Reijnders was clearly the plan even if it took a little time to confirm.

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