AC Milan Boss Montella Calls on Fans to 'Welcome' Gianluigi Donnarumma After Saga
AC Milan coach Vincenzo Montella has called on the club's fans to 'welcome' Gianluigi Donnarumma back at San Siro for the Europa League third qualifying round game against CSU Craiova, after the wonderkid's controversial contract u-turn earlier in the summer.
The 18-year-old was embroiled in a bitter transfer saga, after his agent Mino Raiola claimed his client would not sign a new contract with the Rossoneri.
Factions of the Milan support reacted furiously to what they considered a traitorous decision to leave from a player who had been brought through the club's youth system, and angrily criticised the teenager on social media and during an Italy Under-21 match - in which fans threw fake money and rubber snakes onto the pitch.
However, after the young keeper's decision to stay in Milan, Montella has stressed that supporters now need to show their full backing to Donnarumma, as he makes his first competitive appearance of the season on Thursday.
"Gigio has grown as a man this summer, he was always in the public eye," Motella told the club's official website.
"I hope the fans will welcome him warmly tomorrow. He has shown his love for this club, it probably took him a bit of time, but these things can happen. He needs the support of his fans."
Donnarumma offered a public apology to Milan supporters last month, after signing a new deal and committing his future to the club until 2021.
"I was born and grew up here and I never had any doubts [about wanting to stay]," he said, quoted by ESPN.
"I want to apologise to the fans -- I certainly had no intention of hurting them. I'm sorry that they felt betrayed, but that was never part of my intentions. I want things to return to how they were before. I've been a Milan fan since birth and this is my home."