ISABELLA BONOTTO/Getty Images
AC Milan will reportedly resist any attempts made by other clubs to sign star defender Leonardo Bonucci amid speculation Manchester United are interested in the player.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Tom Coast of Sport Witness), the San Siro club is set for a busy summer transfer window, although four players are said to be considered indispensable; Bonucci is one of that quartet.
Here’s a look at how the story was covered:
Sport Witness @Sport_Witness
Gazzetta dello Sport have their say on Bonucci to Manchester United.
https://t.co/GAEpV0QoJo #mufc #juve https://t.co/aV5RCOjGzK
On Wednesday, Tuttosport reported that Old Trafford could be a destination for the defender this offseason after United boss Jose Mourinho made it clear to Bonucci he wants to sign him (h/t Sport Witness).
Tuttosport reported Milan would be willing to accept a €40 million (£35 million) fee for the centre-back, while a loan move with an obligation to buy was also mentioned.
For Milan, selling Bonucci would be a big surprise, as they worked so hard last summer to land the defender from Juventus. Given the player’s association and success with the Bianconeri, many were shocked at his decision to make the switch to the San Siro.
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Bonucci was part of a massive transfer drive at Milan. The recruitment of a number of key players failed to spark the team into life, though, costing Vincenzo Montella his job. But after an initial revival under successor Gennaro Gattuso, they can finish no higher than sixth position in Serie A.
Individually, Bonucci’s season was full of ups and downs, although as OptaPaolo noted, the 31-year-old did pass a milestone:
300 – Leonardo Bonucci will play tonight his 300th match in Serie A. Milestone. https://t.co/hcsRCrrIEj
Before the last summer’s transfer, many would have said Bonucci was the best centre-back in world football. His stock has fallen since then.
Much of that is down to the systemic issues at Milan and the issues of integrating so many new faces into a squad. Bonucci has played in different formations alongside different defensive partners and has found it tough.
As we can see, courtesy of WhoScored.com, he’s been outperformed by his former team-mates in 2017-18:
Medhi Benatia vs Leonardo Bonucci
Who do you think will earn the higher WhoScored rating when Juventus face AC Milan in tonight’s Coppa Italia final?
🔁 = Benatia
❤️ = Bonucci https://t.co/0nCD7Y477T
Still, at Juventus, he proved he was an elite footballer, able to read the game, win physical battles and distribute from deep positions. In a more settled team with more quality around him, he would surely recapture the form that made him so revered.
United would undoubtedly benefit from that type of presence. While the team’s defensive record has been good this season, that’s largely due to the exploits of David De Gea between the sticks. Mourinho doesn’t appear to have settled on a preferred centre-back pairing this season, either.
While Milan are not in the UEFA Champions League and on the brink of another summer of transition, it would be a big shock if they did allow Bonucci to move elsewhere, especially for the relatively meagre amount mentioned in the report.