The Goalkeeper Dilemma

After Mirabelli massively fumbled the Gigio Donnarumma renewal, burdening us with €6 million in wages for the kid, a second keeper that made €3.5 million in wages, and a third keeper who makes €1 million in wages, we knew this would be problematic going forward. What other Serie A team pays over €10 million in wages for their goalkeepers? Now reports say that Gigio is asking for €10 million annually for a contract renewal, and we still need a second keeper. That is assuming that we keep Antonio as part of the package. How does Milan make this work financially, without sacrificing results on the pitch?
Two overpaid keepers don't mean we need to underpay a third
Mino Raiola is reportedly asking for €10 million per year for Gigio to renew his contract. This after he just negotiated a deal for Ibrahimovic, another client of his, at €7 million in wages, who reportedly wanted to be the highest paid player at the club. I will let Mino work that one out with Ibrahimovic. Despite the fans buying into Mirabelli’s hysterics three years ago, it is difficult to imagine that Gigio came up with the idea of earning €10 million per year, knowing what the club is dealing with, and having stayed through the results of fans buying into Mirabelli’s hysterics three years ago.

It is also difficult to imagine Gigio not getting a raise, but it is more difficult to imagine a club whose project is based low wages and carefully navigating FFP would pay him that much money. Those negotiations will need to be made at some point this year, but that wage demand frames the rest of our dilemma with our goalkeepers this year.

"Mino is asking how much for your salary?"

Antonio Donnarumma makes €1million per year at Milan, a significant increase from his salary at Greek side Asteras Tripolis, where he came from. Sure, he was great in that one Coppa Italia match, and I think he played a Europa League match and maybe a Serie A match for us once, too, where we did not die. But €1 million a year is a lot of money for a third keeper in Italy. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t realize that he absolutely only ever came back to Milan because of his brother. (Thanks for that, Mirabelli.) While the highlight of Antonio’s career outside of Milan was a single Serie A appearance for Genoa, his biggest accomplishment is being a big brother to Gigio. That is a lot of money to pay a brother.

With Reina going to Lazio, Begović’s loan being up, Plizzari being loaned out, and Soncin sold, we need another keeper. Ideally, someone who can bridge the gap in talent and experience between the Donnarummas. Antonio’s performances in the friendlies so far has shown that much. Money is an issue, as the club are looking to cut wages for FFP yet again. However, finding a goalkeeper who won’t give us a heart attack should anything happen to Gigio, and who will also work for very low wages, is very, very difficult.

Quality, experience, leadership, and willing to take a pay cut to stay
The most obvious choice would be to bring back Begović. He knows the team, and the players have indicated that they want him back, especially for his leadership. He has won the Premier League with Chelsea, and has captained his national team, as well. It was reported that initial contacts went well, then discussions stalled. Reportedly, he has asked for a salary of €2 million per year, which the club says is too high. When you consider that Reina was making €3.5 million, and they let him go for free instead of selling him to Lazio, this seems odd. Consider also that Begović’s demands reflect more than a 50% wage cut for him, it just seems like this deal should not be a problem.

Some say that €2 million per year is a lot for a second keeper’s wages, and in any other situation, I would agree. However, in order to have sufficient backup for Gigio that offers more guarantees than Antonio, this is a great price. Considering the talent, the experience, especially  of winning a league title, and the leadership that he brings to the table, as well as the bonus that he is able to be an ambassador for the club, this is actually a very good deal. Consider also that we need someone that will push Gigio, not someone who will compete for the third keeper spot.

Plizzari is young and inexperienced, but could have bridged the gap if he wasn't already on loan
The club has looked at a number of other keepers, most recently, they met with Sportiello’s agent yesterday. He has spent the past two seasons on loan to Fiorentina and then Frosinone from Atalanta, and has never even been capped for the national team. Reports said the club will not be bringing him in. But if that is the level of player they are looking at, what will they pay him? At Atalanta, he reportedly made €0.35 million per year, but how can you justify paying your second keeper less than half your third keeper? And yet, worst case scenario, in the event of a long injury, isn’t it worth investing an extra million or so in a keeper that won’t cost us a Champions League spot?

In a race for Europe, a goalkeeper has the final say

We need someone who can bridge the gap. That means we need to try to bridge the wage gap in the ridiculous salaries that Mirabelli left us with, since he couldn’t handle negotiating with Mino Raiola. Bringing Begović back would be a steal, but the club clearly does not feel the same way about the financial part. However, there is no way to find a player who brings remotely that much to the table for lower wages. We aren’t going to find a keeper that can be that backup for Gigio for anything less. We also want the assurance that a decent second keeper brings in the case of injury or suspension of our €6-€10 million per year keeper. When you are saddled with such exorbitant wages from two keepers with such different levels of talent, you will be hard pressed to bridge that gap at all, let alone bridge the wage gap. That is Milan’s goalkeeper dilemma.


EDIT: After posting this, reports emerged that Milan have chosen Ciprian Tatarusanu as their second keeper. Tatarusanu played three seasons in Serie A with Fiorentina, but arrives now from Lyon. He has played most of his career in his native Romania, as well as stints in France at Nantes and Lyon. He has also been capped for Romania 69 times. Reports say that he will arrive in Milano tonight or tomorrow and sign a three year deal with Milan, with fees and wages undisclosed as of this writing. The club apparently agree on wages, but will he bridge the gap in abilities? Can he offer needed leadership to this young squad? Or will he compete for the third keeper spot?



This post inspired by the music of The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go”


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Milan vs. Vicenza
Today, Wednesday, September 9 • 17:00 CEST (11am EDT)
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