It may have taken young Mario Pašalić a good two months to finally find some opportunities for playing time at AC Milan, but alongside teenager Manuel Locatelli, the 21-year-old Chelsea loanee has emerged as a key part of the Rossoneri's midfield over the past several weeks. Pašalić has started three of the last four games for Milan as part of a midfield three — all wins for the suddenly young, improving, and successful side, who are looking to put the past three seasons of mid-table finishes behind them.
Pašalić's loan contract is through the end of the season and while earlier the rumors were that we might have to consider recalling him in January due to lack of playing time, now we apparently have to start worrying about losing him permanently at the end of the season. Here's his agent Marko Naletilić talking about the future of his client.
"It's been a good time thanks to Montella who gave him confidence, acknowledged that he improved physically and did play him. [Mario] appreciates this thing, he is very well in Milan and is already in love with the society, the city, the whole environment. He's very glad that he trains with a good young coach like Montella from whom he can learn a lot."
"Right now we do not talk [with Chelsea], we see later what happens. Today it is important that he continues to play well and help the team. He must use all the opportunities that Montella gives. He should think about doing well in Milan and then at the end of the season we will evaluate what to do with Chelsea and with the Rossoneri."
"As I said, he is in love with Milan; this makes you realize what is the intention of Pašalić. Clearly he is aware of what Milan means in world football history. For him to be part of this society as a player is a great honor. Galliani is a great relationship, is a great friend, we hope that things will continue well with Pašalić."
-Marko Naletilić; source: Milan News via Google Translate
Pašalić would hardly be the first loanee to have his head turned by a city or a club that he's joined. Sometimes, this leads to a future transfer (see: Lukaku), sometimes it doesn't despite repeated rumors (see: Courtois). With the agent keeping all options open, at least as an attempt to retain some leverage, we'll just have to wait and see what happens in this case.