The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at Gianluigi Donnarumma and how he could stack up Real Madrid, who have been offered the chance to sign him this summer.
The pandemic has taken a major economic toll on European football clubs throughout the past year and the effects it has had on the sport have been immense. It could reflect once again in the transfer market as well, with craze already growing around free transfers as clubs look to avoid paying the exorbitant transfer fee in the current financial climate.
While players like David Alaba and Memphis Depay have already made a lot of headlines, another player that could attract serious attention is Gianluigi Donnarumma.
It appears the AC Milan shot-stopper is ready to head towards the exit door after a host of successful years at San Siro. Although he has been offered a new contract of €7.5 million per year, his agent is looking for clubs that can offer somewhere in the range of €9 million – €10 million.
If reports from Defensa Central are to be believed, Real Madrid are one of the clubs that have been offered the chance to sign Donnarumma. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at the club’s perspective and whether or not they should invest in the AC Milan goalkeeper this summer.
Gianluigi Donnarumma: Set for greatness?
Gianluigi Donnarumma is regarded as one of the best young goalkeepers in world football and it is hardly surprising if we look at the success he had with AC Milan. Since making his professional debut during the 2015/16 campaign, at the age of just 16, the goalkeeper has notched up an incredible 234 appearances in all competitions, with 200 of them coming in the Serie A.
Just to put things into perspective, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and club captain Alessio Romagnoli, aged 39 and 26 respectively, are the only players in the current Milan squad to have featured in more matches in the Italian top flight.
During his time in professional football, Donnarumma has put in consistent performances in between the sticks, averaging over 2.4 saves per game in each of his six seasons. His tally for the current campaign lies at 2.7, which is the seventh highest in the league among ‘keepers who have at least featured in 20 matches.
The Italian had even made the most number of saves in the league (146) during the 2016/17 campaign. Even in the current season, Donnarumma’s save percentage of 72% is significantly higher than the likes of Manuel Neuer, Edouard Mendy, Alisson and David de Gea.
Although the AC Milan star has had to distribute the ball from the back, particularly through long balls, fewer times than last season due to an overall shift in dynamics for the team, he has constantly improved his ability to act as a sweeper keeper.
For example, Donnarumma has been averaging at least 0.50 defensive actions per 90 over the past couple of seasons, which is a massive improvement compared to the 0.41 and 0.37 he attained during the 2018/19 and 2017/2018 campaign. And at the age of just 22 – the Italian does indeed have limitless potential.
How does he stack up at Real Madrid?
Donnarumma’s record at AC Milan is quite the sight to behold and the goalkeeper would certainly be a coup for any team at the moment. However, things do get quite a bit tricky in the Real Madrid camp.
For starters, the Spanish champions, in Thibaut Courtois, have one of the top-performing goalkeepers in Europe over the past 18 months or so.
Last season, the Belgian attained the highest save percentage (78.9%) in La Liga – marginally outperforming Jan Oblak (77.1%), who is widely considered as one of the top three goalkeepers in the world right now. And in the ongoing campaign, the former Chelsea man is outperforming himself with an astounding save percentage rate of 80.6%.
Incidentally, only former Real Madrid shot-stopper Keylor Navas of PSG has attained a higher number (82%) in the top five European leagues. Regardless, it does reflect the quality of Courtois, who, at the age of 28, still has a lot of years up his sleeves.
Speaking of age, it is also fair to shine some light on Andriy Lunin. The Ukrainian goalkeeper, aged only 22, is currently serving as number two for Courtois.
A product of the Dnipro youth academy, Lunin’s performances in his native Ukraine, as well as the Spanish youth competitions and indeed, the Segunda Division with Real Oviedo, were impressive, to say the least, with the player being considered as the future face of the Real Madrid goal.
It does, to an extent, reduces the necessity of a new ‘keeper at Real Madrid this summer – making the move more or less redundant. And that leads to our third talking point.
Too expensive for Los Blancos?
It is quite unusual for Real Madrid to not being able to afford someone, but we are indeed living in unusual times that has crippled the club’s financial prowess due to drastic losses in tourism, matchday revenue as well as TV revenue – impacting the club in a major fashion.
Although Los Merengues are still in contention to sign the likes of Erling Haaland in the upcoming summer transfer window, it could come at the expense of a few star players leaving, with Sergio Ramos already being linked with an exit that could create a massive void in the defensive unit.
As such, Zinedine Zidane needs to remain cautious and wise with his transfer expenditures in the summer, given the fact that he may have to replace multiple key players – a list that could include Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Ramos.
Questions have also been raised regarding the club’s lack of depth, which means the Frenchman might be forced to sign players that could add quality to the bench as well.
Donnarumma, in that regard, is perhaps not the most prudent option. Although the Italian is available on a free transfer, his salary demands of €9 million – €10 million per year could create a disparity in the wage structure.
For example, the club could certainly use that fund to concrete the future of the likes of Raphael Varane, Federico Valverde and Casemiro among many others. So, declining the opportunity to get their hands on Donnarumma this summer would be the right decision by Los Blancos.