Grazie Presidente

After five years of faithful and tireless service, Franck Kessié is leaving Milan. That is a sentence that I hoped I never had to type. He came to the club as a young talent and immediately won fans over with his power, strength, and skill, and the love only grew as he became such an important player for us during a time of so much turmoil off the pitch. His fun personality and his nickname that he gave himself that made him larger than life made him that much more beloved. While it is hard to see him go, we can only thank him and wish him well. Grazie, Presidente.

Going out on top

Kessié came to us from Atalanta in 2017 as a part of the Mirabelli and Fassone "Let's spend all of the money we do not have" spending spree. He was then and has always been the best player they purchased by far. Not a surprise, though, that he would end up leaving us on a free transfer, because he was brought in under the false pretenses of money and glory. Even though Maldini and Massara actually gave him the glory, his agent at least still wanted the money. His contract expires June 30th.

That smile...

This season was tough. After playing straight through for club and country for more than a year straight due to COVID-19, he came back from the Olympics exhausted and finally, for the first time, really actually injured. His season was rocky, fans were insulting him online and in the stadium because he had not signed a contract renewal, and a media witchhunt that had already started in June, while he was on national team duty. He struggled through the first part of the season, but just before Christmas, after having a goal stolen from him vs. Napoli, he stepped up and reminded us of what we would be missing as he went off to AFCON the following month. After he came back, he was a complete professional, despite making the decision we all dreaded.

The salute always for his father

Even while being the victim of racist insults and chants numerous times during his time at Milan, Kessié was a model player, worked hard and was a great teammate. Well, except for the parking in Gazidis' spot thing. Okay, and there was the incident with Acerbi's jersey, but that was mostly on Bakayoko, he was merely an accomplice. But other than that, he was everyone's favorite funny man at Milanello, and everyone's favorite hard man on the pitch against opponents. 

The mischievous side

How much do we owe this man over the past five years? There are 37 goals and 16 assists. But they do not begin to measure what he has saved us defensively, how many times have we enjoyed him gently throwing opponents to ground with his massive physicality, how many key passes and interceptions he has given us. This season, Pioli played him in a more attacking role, and he even managed to boss that, too. He took so many huge penalties for us, he was always cool under pressure. He really will be missed in so many ways.   

Always calm, cool, and collected

I had a personal connection to Kessié. In 2018, when Milan came to Los Angeles for a friendly, the players were warming up right in front of us. All of us fans were shouting out the bigger players' names, trying to get them to react, but they were hyperfocused on their warmup and ignoring us. I shouted Kessié's name, who was still young and relatively unknown at the time, and he smiled for me. I saw what it meant to him then to be recognized as a young, up and coming player. But I was already in love with his tremendous skills. His departure is particularly heartbreaking for me.

He played for each one of us

This week, Kessié said goodbye on his Instagram account: 

"After 5 years I couldn't have hoped to close out this great experience in a better way! A unique emotion: we are Italian champions!

Proud to have worn this glorious shirt and to have shared this journey with some fantastic colleagues!

Thank you for everything! Thank you everyone!

Your "Presidente"

Always in our hearts

It was so fitting that he scored the third and final goal in the win at Sassuolo to clinch the Scudetto. His salute to his father, the way he nearly teared up before he entertained us with a dance on the way to the medal stand, and the way he entertained nonstop with the microphone on the bus during the parade... it was all perfect. It felt like he didn't really want to say goodbye, either. But if we had to part ways, he left us with memories of what we loved most about him all they way around. Professional as a player, epic on the pitch, and endearing to our hearts. Grazie, Presidente.

This post inspired by the music of Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You"

Grazie Presidente Grazie Presidente Reviewed by Elaine on 11:32 AM Rating: 5
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