It’s not very often you see an entire city up-in-arms against an 18-year-old.
But in Milan, that’s certainly the case for Gianluigi Donnarumma.
The teenager has been the talk of the footballing world this week, after refusing to sign a new contract with the Italian giants.
The club and it’s supporters have responded with outrage and disappointment since the news broke, with the goalkeeper pelted with fake money during Italy’s opening game of the European Under-21 championships.
Donnarumma and his agent Mino Raiolo have become public enemies in Milan, with numerous figureheads linked with the club coming out to vilify the pair.
In turn, Raiola has claimed his player has been threatened and bullied by the club, although CEO Marco Fassone has denied those claims.
Amidst the chaos, Milan’s ultras, Curva Sud Milano, have published an open letter to Donnarumma and Raiola in response to what’s happened.
It’s pretty wordy, but definitely doesn’t disappoint.
The statement begins with an attack on Raiola’s greed:
“After [Italian President Sergio] Mattarella on December 31, it’s time for the unified speech by Mino Raiola on all the sports channels.
“Obviously with HIS journalists, with previously agreed questions and all pre-recorded, because it should never be a real debate with real questions.
“It seems strange to see Raiola, who has always shunned the Press, opening his doors and trying to save the impossible.
“It seems strange to hear words like ‘hostile climate’, ‘forcing’, and ‘threats’ that translate financially to €25m in five years, the captain’s armband and six months of reflections to get to June and say they feel hurried.”
The statement then goes onto discuss the treatment towards Donnarumma, and the way Raiola promised the teenager “mountains of money”:
“It’s seems strange to hear about a hostile climate for a lad who is the first Milan player in many years to have his own song from the fans and so much love from every single Milan fan.
“It seems strange to learn from Raiola that there was no discussion of wages or the length of the contract. Maybe because in the famous game of ‘the compensation that would be paid to Milan will go to me’, some elementary things have no value.
“It seems strange that Raiola, with his polished Italian and infinite culture, did not comprehend the simple meaning of a banner to which he referred!
“It seems strange that such a great agent was unable to represent the interests of his client.
“Instead he destroyed his image not only in the eyes of Milan fans, but of all football fans, who now find that an 18-year-old can be irreconcilable with the club which launched him in the sole interest of a man behind him, promising mountains of money.”
The ultras then go on to reference Francesco Totti, whose loyalty towards Roma has been universally commended, as well as Napoli star Marek Hamsik:
“It seems strange that, just a few days after the farewell of Francesco Totti, in tears in front of his fans, a lad of 18 would prefer money to being treated as a God by his fans.
“For a sportsman, the gratitude of the fans has no financial value, and we invite Donnarumma to reflect upon what he has denied himself for the rest of his career.
“It doesn’t seem strange to us that Raiola didn’t explain how everything changed so fast.”
“It doesn’t seem strange to us that a club symbol who really wanted to be one (Hamsik) moved away from this character, becoming captain of the club he chose to love.
“It doesn’t seem strange even to try and cast old condors [Adriano Galliani] in a good light, who say they want the best for Milan having placed one who could have been a club symbol for the future in the hands of a vulture, so now he is merely the symbol of easy money.”
The statement ends with a general swipe towards agents, and implores Donnarumma to stay and rebuild his reputation:
“The actual reality of football is increasingly far from the passion of the people and closer to Raiola-style characters, figures capable of conditioning whole careers and histories of the most important clubs with one goal: their own self-interest.
“We want to thank those who are working for the good of Milan, and have brought people with Rossoneri values back to the club, people who really meant it when they kissed the badge and deserved it when they received affection.
“We know it must have been difficult for the lad to defend himself from the thousands of criticism and insults he’s received in the past few days, but when you swear love and betray it, that’s all that can happen.
“On social media it’s likely that things have been over the top, and of course we don’t think threats are right, they have nothing to do with our position.
“We believe there may still be a chance to rebuild things, but it’s now linked to the expulsion for his affairs of those who pushed him in a bad direction, ruining his image.
“Players come and go, we and Milan will always be there.”