Mino Raiola says there are 11 clubs interested in signing AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, including four from the Premier League, while adding that it will be he who decides where the 18-year-old will play next season.
Donnarumma’s contract with Milan has a year left to run on it and the Serie A club are keen on agreeing a new deal with the Italy international in a bid to stave off interest and avoid losing him on a free transfer next year.
No negotiations have yet been held with his agent Raiola, whose previous silence on the issue has been seen by some as a suggestion that he would rather see the young goalkeeper move elsewhere to a club where he can play Champions League football.
Raiola has claimed 11 clubs are willing to offer Donnarumma a chance to move on, and he says he only wants what is best for his client.
“Gigio is the [Diego] Maradona of goalkeepers,” Raiola told Corriere dello Sport. “He can only get even better and we need to leave him to grow in peace. He’s not a slave, nor is he a robot. There are 11 top clubs interested in him — Manchester United, Manchester City, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Napoli, Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain and Everton.”
That would make a total of 12 clubs where Donnarumma could potentially be playing next season, with Raiola not closing the door on him staying with Milan.
“Donnarumma’s contract expires on June 30, 2018,” he said. “I’ve never said to [Milan general manager Marco] Fassone and [sporting director Massimiliano] Mirabelli that either we sign now or we never sign. If I had wanted him to go elsewhere, we would already have done it, don’t you think?
“I can understand the Milan fans’ stress and the fans’ expectations. Gigio is a club symbol and, for the new owners, it would be ideal to end negotiations on a new contract today. In fact, yesterday. But Fassone and Mirabelli only assumed their positions just over a month ago.
“Let them work in peace and quiet. I assume all the responsibility for the final decision that we take. If you ask me if there is still a chance that Donnarumma signs a new contract with Milan, then the answer is yes. If you ask me if there is a chance that Donnarumma leaves, then the answer is yes.”
Milan coach Vincenzo Montella has stated his preference to work with Donnarumma next season, saying at a news conference last week that the goalkeeper is not for sale at any price, while calling on Raiola to resolve his future sooner rather than later.
“Vincenzo says that agents should not be calling him so much? Well I don’t even have his number,” Raiola said. “I’m not a coach and he’s not an agent. He can give Gianluigi advice because he likes him, but I’d rather he gave him advice on how not to concede — I can give him the rest of the advice he needs.
“Let’s not forget that I brought Gigio to Milan, when he was on the brink of joining Inter. My players are first and foremost my friends and they need to be happy, thanks to the work I do for them. In this specific case, we’re talking about an 18-year-old, a phenomenon who is already being called upon to make a fundamental decision for his life.
“It’s a decision which needs to be pondered and, certainly, it will not come down to his wages. Do people really think that could be the problem when he has 11 clubs knocking on the door? They say that Donnarumma needs to be grateful to Milan and it’s true, but Milan must also be grateful to Donnarumma, and to [former coach Sinisa] Mihajlovic.
“Before he gave him his debut, he had given Diego Lopez every possible chance to defend his No. 1 shirt. But Gigio was already so good when he was 16 that his teammates were elbowing him even in training. When Sinisa told me at Milanello: ‘Mino, I’m going to play the kid on Sunday,’ I told him: ‘you do right.'”
Donnarumma has since gone on to make 68 Serie A appearances for Milan, conceding 74 goals and keeping 23 clean sheets. He is the youngest goalkeeper to pull on an Italy shirt and has been capped three times by his country.
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.