The consensus best center back in the world in recent years, Leonardo Bonucci, for whom Chelsea tried to break the bank three transfer windows in a row but each time were summarily rejected by Juventus, is now set to join AC Milan in a shocking and sudden move that’s gone from zero-to-100 in less than 24 hours. AC Milan are ready to pay upwards of €40m (£35m) to secure the rights to the Italian international, a fee that’s well below the rumored sum Chelsea (and Manchester City) were willing to pay not all that long ago.
Chelsea’s attempts at reuniting boss Antonio Conte with Bonucci eventually took a backseat to other transfer business, with the Blues instead moving for former Roma defender Antonio Rüdiger.
Leonardo Bonucci from Juventus to AC Milan, here we go! ✔️ #transfers— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 13, 2017
Bonucci’s decision has sent shock waves through the football world, especially given the relatively small price. Despite being 30 years old, Bonucci is a steal at €40m for the newly rich Rossoneri.
Shock transfer of the summer. Juventus about to sell Bonucci - arguably best centre back in the world - to AC Milan for £35m— Kaveh Solhekol (@SkyKaveh) July 13, 2017
How did this happen?
No one knows for certain (yet), but ESPN’s Gabriele Marcotti laid out a solid theory in a series of tweets, hinting at a confluence of on-pitch and off-pitch events resulting in the eventual decision.
Bonucci's age + sizeable fee + wage savings + broken relationship w/Allegri + Rugani/Caldara waiting in wings— Gabriele Marcotti (@Marcotti) July 13, 2017
Plus, I don't think Allegri is wedded to a back three, which means u don't need 5 CBs + Caldara— Gabriele Marcotti (@Marcotti) July 13, 2017
But even if we allow for the possibility that Juventus suddenly designated Bonucci non-essential personnel, why wouldn’t have they sold to the Premier League instead, from where they could’ve gotten a fair bit larger transfer fee?
This is where the off-pitch considerations come into play, including the health of his son, an issue that had Bonucci considering retirement last summer.
He's 30, his child has been unwell, I doubt he wants to move far from home at this stage.— Gabriele Marcotti (@Marcotti) July 13, 2017
I don't think they see Milan as a rival— Gabriele Marcotti (@Marcotti) July 13, 2017
Either way, the Bonucci-to-Chelsea rumors can now be conclusively put to rest.