AC Milan are to blame for Gianluigi Donnarumma situation - Mino Raiola
Mino Raiola says AC Milan only have themselves to blame for Gianluigi Donnarumma's decision not to extend his contract with the club, who have instead blamed the agent for making the 18-year-old's decision for him.
Milan announced last week that they had been informed by Donnarumma and his agent that he would not be extending his current contract, which expires in 2018.
The goalkeeper has suffered a backlash from angry Milan fans, with fake dollar bills being thrown on the field during his appearance for Italy's under-21s against Denmark in the European Under-21 Championship on Sunday, while a banner bearing the name "Dollarumma" was held up by supporters.
However, Raiola says fans should not be angry with the player but rather with Milan for the way they failed to manage the situation.
"To start with, Gigio was convinced about staying at Milan, also because I remember when he was 14 and chose their colours after having had contact with Inter, despite his family trying to talk him out of it following their disappointment with his brother Antonio," Raiola told Gazzetta dello Sport. "Recently, though, they have been terrible.
"What really struck him was that remark by [sporting director Massimiliano] Mirabelli -- 'If you don't sign, you're going to stay in the stands.' Let's see what happens now, but it stinks of mobbing around here. It's best to die on your feet than live on your knees.
"We had asked for time and space to allow Gigio to be serene, but Milan were telling the press about every step. You can see the results. A part of the fans had turned against Gigio and the club did nothing to defend him. Gigio was sad.
"The ball is in Milan's court. If they call me, I am obliged to listen to them. The conditions are not there to continue; no is still no."
Raiola added that his relationship with Mirabelli had never been good and made clear that Milan's sporting director is the one he blames.
"There were still four games of the season to go and Mirabelli started stressing Gigio out," he said. "There was a moment when the lad was trying to avoid him at Milanello [training centre]. They treated him like an asset, not like a fans' favourite. They tried to tap him up by saying he could sign and still leave if he wanted.
"They never let him be. In a big club like this, this doesn't happen anymore. It reminded me of some things I saw many years ago at small clubs in the south. I'm not doubting [Mirabelli] as a person, but his methods. Nobody has noted, for example, that [Andrea] Conti refused to train for Atalanta because he wanted to join Milan.
"Gigio, on the other hand, has always been where he was meant to be, he never made any financial demands. And besides, when you have a top player in your club, like him, do you then go and offer three times as much to the likes of [Alvaro] Morata or [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang? It's incoherent."
Milan have been clearer in telling Donnarumma that he will not be leaving them this summer, even if they could then lose him on a free transfer next year.
Milan general manager Marco Fassone says the door is not yet closed should Donnarumma change his mind.
"Milan would still be willing to welcome him with open arms, even those fans who are most incensed," he told Gazzetta dello Sport. "We all love Gigio and we tried to make him feel this in every way we could.
"Right from the first day we arrived here [following the takeover in April], we started to talk both with him and with Raiola. While Raiola tended to slow things down, the player was saying that he wanted to stay at Milan. He would tell us this while looking us in the eyes. He was totally sincere."
Fassone says the decision not to extend Donnarumma's contract was not taken by the player.
"In the end, it was the agent who prevailed," he said. "I'm convinced that, in his heart, Gigio is not convinced by this decision.
"It's certainly [Raiola's] decision. He used his influence, and he is very influential over Gigio. Just think for a second: a lad of 18 years and a big agent with a huge personality. How could it end? Of course when you looked the lad in the eyes, you still had quite a lot of hope that it would turn out well, but it didn't.
"We presented them with a very good offer that even surprised them positively. That is why I was optimistic that he would have said yes. I even told Gigio, 'Think for a second, if you renew you are going to have 10,000 fans in front of the headquarters.'"
Fassone says everybody risks losing out from the whole affair.
"Milan certainly lose an excellent goalkeeper, and we also lose out financially," he said. "But this whole affair has strengthened our relationship with the fans, which is crucial. So not all bad things harm."
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.