Barcelona, who are in pursuit of a defender this summer due to the possible departure of Javier Mascherano, have reportedly had a bid rejected for AC Milan centre-half Alessio Romagnoli.
Italian source Corriere dello Sport (via Football Italia) claim that Milan have turned down a €30m bid from Barcelona for 21-year-old Alessio Romagnoli, who moved to Milan from AS Roma last summer after a transfer saga stretching to nearly two months. The centre-back is touted to be the next great Italian defender alongside Juventus’ Daniele Rugani.
The need for a centre-back
The news came soon after Barcelona based newspaper Mundo Deportivo claimed that Barcelona have shortlisted the defender as a potential transfer target this summer alongside Athletic Bilbao’s Aymeric Laporte. The latter is now looking likely to join Pep Guardiola at Manchester City next season, if reputed Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio is to be believed.
The Spanish newspaper further says that owing to the unreliability of Jeremy Mathieu and Thomas Vermaelen, and the uncertainty regarding Mascherano’s future, Barcelona are looking for centre-back options in the transfer market (via Calciomercato).
Moreover, the deal could be facilitated by Ariedo Braida, who is Barcelona’s international adviser. Milan was Braida’s former club, with which he parted ways two years ago. Should Braida use his connections to get a deal out of Adriano Galliani and Milan, Romagnoli would be the first Italian to play for Barcelona since Gianluca Zambrotta left the Catalan giants to move to AC Milan.
The situation at Milan
It is unlikely that AC Milan would discuss a move for Romagnoli at the moment. As president Silvio Berlusconi has reiterated several times, he wants to build a core of Italian footballers at Milan who would serve as a foundation for the future of the club. The likes of Giacomo Bonaventura, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Alessio Romagnoli seem to be crucial for that project.
Romagnoli was purchased from Roma for €25m last summer after the capital club eventually conceded to Galliani’s continual insistence on buying the Italy U21 international. However, the Giallorossi are owed 15 per cent of any future transfer fee if AC Milan decide to cash in on the centre-back. Romagnoli had a decent first season at Milan, but he will sorely miss his former coach from Sampdoria, Sinisa Mihajlovic, who was sacked halfway through the season. The managerial uncertainty at the club could feature in the youngster’s decision-making process should he push for a move to Barcelona.