How the response of Milan’s CEO to Gigio Donnarumma’s agent opened up the possibility of a new contract.
Words: Federico Manasse
When Mino Raiola’s declarations about the Donnarumma case were released a few days ago, the upheaval of Milan supporters was palpable across all social media platforms.
Insults to the agent and to the 18 year-old goalkeeper persevered throughout the whole day, right until Marco Fassone delivered his courteous, yet brilliant reply.
Football Italia provides a breakdown of Fassone’s main points, which, together, check-mated Raiola, calmed the fans and have once again opened up the possibility of Donnarumma staying at Milan.
Contesting not the legitimacy, but the ethics of the player’s choice
“Some people have questioned the legitimacy of Gigio’s choice, but it’s actually a perfectly legitimate professional choice,” Fassone acknowledged. “However, legitimacy is always accompanied by an ethical code, which, particularly in football, must be abided by.”
With exemplary political correctness, Fassone admitted to the total professionalism of the player’s choice, while still appealing to the core values that he thinks should influence Donnarumma’s decision.
“Milan have always supported Gigio and provided him with the opportunity to become who he is today” he continued. “This relationship has an intrinsic value and it follows that, while it is fair for Gigio to leave, he should also think about putting Milan in a better position: he should renew, with an agreed release clause, and then depart, if so he desires, for a fair amount. I would still be sad to be him go, but at least there wouldn’t be an economic disadvantage.”
Here, Fassone highlighted the worst aspect of Donnarumma’s decision, extending his argument beyond the mainstream rhetoric of betrayal and disloyalty. Rightfully, he observed that there is an ethical, and a less ethical, manner of leaving one’s club – this will have struck a chord with all involved.
Contradicted some of Raiola’s crucial points
Some of Raiola’s main arguments regarded the limited available time and the allegedly destructive behaviour of Milan’s sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli. Fassone proceeded to efficiently provide evidence against both these claims.
“I told Raiola since the beginning that I needed a response before the beginning of the season, which for me begins on the 1st of July,” the CEO said. “it’s vital for a player to concentrate solely on football, and not on contractual matters. Our offer was clear and there were two whole months worth of time, which I think were more than sufficient to make a decision.”
Fassone was also keen to ensure that there was no suggestion of a rift between himself and Mirabelli.
“If Mino’s objective was to highlight a fracture between Mirabelli and I, he was most certainly incorrect. Mirabelli and I act as one entity: we have a different, but complementary, style, and all our decisions are taken cohesively. Especially with regards to Donnarumma, we’ve always been crystal clear about our intentions.”
Made a strong statement of authority on part of the club
When asked why Milan didn’t cash in on Donnarumma, Fassone’s response was authoritative, and indicative of a rediscovered confidence.
“We don’t need anyone’s charity. Donnarumma is worth infinitely more than fifteen, twenty million, independently from the expiry date of his contract. Gigio won’t leave if not for the appropriate amount – if no suitable offer should arise, he will stay with us and be free to leave next summer.”
In saying so, Fassone not only legitimised the club’s decision to keep Donnarumma for the upcoming season, but he also demonstrated that times have changed, that Milan now have a strong budget and don’t have a necessity to put their best players on sale, something which has happened often in the past few years.
Opened up to the possibility of an extension
Fassone carried and closed the conversation in amiable tones, openly stating the club’s continued desire to extend the 18-year-old’s contract.
"We’d be happy for him to stay, and renew. I’m not particularly optimistic about this, but I’d be enthusiastic if he changed his mind and decided to stay here for the long run. We all care about him dearly. There will be many opportunities to talk face to face once he comes back from his U21 commitments – only time will tell.”
This simple and transparent attitude, so starkly different from Raiola’s tone, which could be considered accusatory and confrontational, may have turned the tables.
In the hours immediately after, talks of a potential upset have gradually increased. A number of sources have reported that Donnarumma might in fact re-consider his position - something that two days ago seemed impossible.
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