Rebuilding Milan: The Contracts
As the 2020-2021 season is teetering on the edges of a derailment – but showing signs of life with an important win at Roma – with flashbacks of the so called banter era having become visible on the pitch it is a good time to review the situation that has been developing with player contracts.
Whether due to a budget cap, which is certainly under stress due to the pandemic or whether it is the Financial Fair Play regulations Milan can not and has not spent a large amount on the transfer market. Some good moves have certainly been completed, of which Theo Hernandez for 20 million is a highlight, but recent transfer windows have been dominated by loans and thus commitments have been pushed back. For one comprehensive resource it is worth looking at the transfermarkt site and its Milan transfers page. There are many positives, top betting sites that cover the Serie A confirm the same positives too. Financially and qualitatively the moves are mostly a good mix for a rebuild but the net spent is telling. For the past two seasons Milan have only spent around 30 million more than they have sold and this includes loan fees. Thirty million is certainly not a large amount and for the current season the numbers are smaller.
Using the position in the table one can say the rebuild is ahead of schedule with a young core and sprinkles of leadership in the likes of Ibra and Kjaer. The loan commitments can make summer 2021 an expensive window by themselves so the rebuild needs an infusion of cash to move further ahead. If the five loaned players are redeemed their fees amount to a large number already. Of course not all are required and in two of the cases the option to redeem is not all in Milan’s hands but even if these players don’t stay others need to be found to fill their spots.
- Tonali (€15 million to be paid to Brescia)
- Dalot (Dry loan from Manchester United, would cost anywhere €10 to 25m)
- Brahim Diaz (Dry loan from Real Madrid, could cost upwards of €25m)
- Meite (Option from Torino €9m)
- Tomori (Option from Chelsea €28m)
There are also two notable Bosmans that have not signed yet and became entitled to negotiate with other teams as of January 1. Donnarumma is a subject of what feels like perpetual bargaining. Mino Raiola is the agent of the young keeper who recently reached 200 league games with Milan. The agent is infamous for milking all the money and commissions he can from teams with Paul Pogba perhaps being his most widely publicized, expensive and controversial client. In regards to Donnarumma the talks have shifted from wanting a small raise to his current to €6 million salary up to amounts like €10 million. Perhaps more importantly are the rumoured lengths and release clauses that the agent wants tied to Champions League qualification. The agent is said to be looking at a short term and/or a relatively cheap exit if Milan fails to reach the European competition. Both conditions would be a disservice to a team which the player claims to admire and love. A lot has been made about how the agent is good for his players and delivering them riches. Another look at the transfermarkt site belies this notion (see image to the right). He certainly has negotiated expensive and high profile contracts but has he really done well for players whose quality wouldn’t get them paid regardless? He certainly pampers his clients – helicopter rides to Monaco and all – and works hard on their behalf but this writer would say Raiola’s reputation for enriching his players is over rated.
The other Bosman is Calhanoglu and his relatively low €2.5 million current salary. There was talk of him asking for €7 million a season but the actual number asked by his agent was likely closer to 5 with Milan offering around 4. He, as many others on the team, had a great 2020 but his form has recently dipped. There will be resistance in paying the attacking midfielder anything over 4 but it may need reminding that replacing him with a good player is not going to be easy nor is it likely to end up cheaper than paying him a big raise.
Two possible free transfers have been featured in the news in recent weeks and months. The first is Florian Thauvin from Marseille. The Frenchman is a good option for the much maligned right wing. His demands are likely to be manageable and somewhat affordable, he can improve the problem position. The other is Otavio from Porto. The Brazilian playmaker could come even cheaper to replace or perhaps back up Calhanoglu. It is almost certain that Maldini and the management are scouting deals like these two because even with a top 4 finish and Champions League qualification the aforementioned commitments and finances will limit the team’s options.
On the exit front few millions could be had by selling Castillejo but there are not many other obvious outgoing transfers and any exits would be difficult to replace. It is hoped that the team can generate some more euros by finalizing the loans of Caldara, Laxalt and Conti. However all three would be difficult. Caldara is not a regular at Atalanta, Laxalt is not exactly a regular at Celtic either and even if so won’t garner much cash from a disappointing Celtic or any other team for that matter. Conti’s deal includes a €7 million obligation if Parma survive the Serie A fight but based on recent form that is not a certainty.
As early as this summer another series of negotiations will come to the forefront for the next expiring contracts in 2022. A list that includes Romagnoli and Kessie with both asking for not so small raises too.
Running a football team is always going to be like navigating a maze of finances, agents and refereeing too.