The Trouble with Diego Lopez

Even I was surprised and excited when I first heard the rumors that Milan were going after Diego Lopez. Going from spending next to nothing on keepers, and especially after waiting for and then subsequently getting Agazzi, I had given up hope that Milan even knew what a quality keeper looked like. But as the rumors became real and the deal for Lopez took shape, I realized that there was more to this than meets the eye. That maybe this wasn’t a good deal for Milan after all. Before you stop reading, please hear me out. Let me tell you the trouble with Diego Lopez.

Not what Milan really needed

To begin with, Milan have been lucky to have the services of Abbiati all of these years. He is better than a lot of people think and has been faithful to Milan despite being treated very poorly on many occasions. But his biggest issue has always been his injuries, they have plagued him his entire career, and thus having a very solid second keeper has been necessary. But Milan have never had that. And it has become exponentially more important every year older that he gets.

I have said for years that we needed to find a very good second keeper. Once we bought Gabriel, we specifically needed someone in the 25-27 range who could be a starter as Abbiati is phased out. And speaking of Gabriel, why did we spend on him and take up a non-EU spot when we could have gotten Perin, Bardi, or Scuffet instead? All of them are so young, it isn’t easy to tell how they will develop, but at the very least, one of the Italians would not have taken a non-EU spot. Another poor decision from Milan in the goalkeeping department.

Inconceivable! (I do not think that word means what you think it means)

After Galliani waited and then rushed to get the 30 year old and very poor Agazzi this summer, I just assumed I would take my life before they’d make a decent decision about a keeper. But then the rumors came that they were shopping Agazzi around after all. Would they replace him with someone better? So when I heard about Lopez, I was absolutely thrilled.

Having watched him play at both Valencia and Real Madrid, I knew he was good. And yes, I knew he had put Casillas in his place at Madrid. But looking closer, his stats showed an unnerving inconsistency. And his first team experience was actually a lot less than a lot of great keepers his same age. Oh yeah, and then there’s the age. At the age of 32, as a keeper, he’s kind of in his prime or maybe just a hair past it. But for Milan, that’s not good. He turns 33 in November, which puts him at only 4.5 years younger than Abbiati. Which means that we have a 37 year-old, an almost 33 year-old, and an almost 22 year-old in goalkeeper choices. So in about 4 years, we are going to be in the same place we are now, looking for another stopgap first team keeper.

The fact that we ever signed Agazzi should make you question Galliani's judgment

Then there are the wages. If he does in fact sign tomorrow, we will pay him €2.5m per year plus some unknown bonuses to Real Madrid. For four years. In contrast, Abbiati makes only €1.3m per year and Gabriel makes €500.000 per year. Heaven help us if we can’t get rid of Agazzi, although I doubt his wages are too high. Even if Lopez is better than Abbiati, he’s not nearly twice as good as Abbiati, so he is definitely going to be overpaid by Milan’s standards.

To spend €2.5m per year now or even for two years to have a more reliable first keeper (trusting that he’ll actually be consistent and reliable and injury-free,) isn’t the end of the world. But by the fourth year, it is going to be excessive. And it is also an amount that will prevent us from signing that really good 25-27 year-old keeper that we need. Or even one of those other young Italian keepers I mentioned. It’s a lot of money for a goalie, probably the most Milan have ever spent on a keeper. And while that is not horrific, to spend it now without Europe, at a time we desperately need to cut our wage bill and build from youth, it is entirely irresponsible.

If Milan Channel adds an exclamation point, then it must be a good deal.... right?

Then there is the length of the contract. Two years ago, we sent all of our world class players packing in an effort to cut the wage bill, but we lost so much quality. The year before that, Pirlo was deemed surplus because we wouldn’t sign him fro two years at the age of 30. When Galliani keeps screaming shorter contracts, I think it short circuits his brain, because we got players like Zaccardo for 3.5 years and now Diego Lopez for four. I mean what if he doesn’t work out at Milan and can’t adapt to the Italian game? Four years is a long time to pay a player so much money when we don’t even know what he can do. And don’t even mention the “free transfer” lie, because the bonuses we’ll pay and the larger salary are more cumbersome than a one time transfer fee.

“But he took a pay cut to come to Milan.” Yeah, I get that. And why is it exactly that he was willing to do that? Especially to a club with no Champions League? Oh yeah, because Real Madrid signed Costa Rican star Keylor Navas, and Lopez was not going to get first team playing time any more. It is reported that Galliani thinks Lopez is the “best keeper in Europe.” But he might be the only one. Not even Lopez thinks he is, he knew he had to move to another club to be able to earn a starting spot. A club like Milan, who don’t seem to know the first thing about goalkeepers. He was pushed out. He is not the best keeper in Europe, not even at one club. So he had to find a club who thought he was, and Milan was an easy target.

"Oh, Navas is 27 and a better keeper than me? Fine. I'll go to Milan, they don't know keepers at all"

I really am thrilled to have a really good keeper coming to Milan, don’t get me wrong. For this year and maybe even the next year, he should make us pretty happy. But he is not the keeper we needed in age, wages, or contract length right now. And it’s not even him I have a problem with, it’s Milan’s poor judgment once again. This kind of transfer is exactly what makes Galliani Milan fans’ public enemy number one: He goes and finds a “champion” (albeit usually just past their prime) on a “free transfer” (read: higher annual costs, so actually more expensive than a transfer fee,) and then signs him on too high of wages for too long of a contract.

While he becomes the hero of the hour, he is enslaving us once more for the future. Like the Curva said at the team presentation, we are unable to free ourselves of his “free” transfers. This kind of transfer is exactly why we are where we are now, and until he stops doing this, we will keep getting what we’ve gotten.

Transfers done on a bicycle should not be valid

Like the poor person who goes to buy a new Nissan and gets talked into buying an older, used BMW because there’s no money down. But he gets enslaved because he can’t afford the larger payments and the maintenance. We got ourselves an older, used BMW keeper when we really needed a brand new Nissan with warranty kind of keeper. And now we’ll have to pay for it. Hopefully, at least Lopez will thrive and make us happy and thrill us with saves. Because with our broken down Fiat defense, he’s definitely going to have to make a lot of saves. And since we won’t be able to afford that new Nissan keeper or to upgrade our broken down Fiat defense now that we’re paying so much for Lopez, let’s just hope he’s not a lemon. Galliani’s poor judgment is what’s wrong with the Diego Lopez transfer. Let’s just hope he’s worth the trouble.

This post inspired by the music of the Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love”

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The Trouble with Diego Lopez The Trouble with Diego Lopez Reviewed by Elaine on 11:20 PM Rating: 5
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