Manchester United are lining up a move for AC Milan defender Leonardo Bonucci amid concerns that the Serie A giants could be in line for serious punishment from UEFA regarding their failure to comply with Financial Fair Play rules.
I Rossoneri splashed a total of €250m on player recruitment last summer - an outlay eclipsed only by Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain - both of whom are Arab owned and went on to win their respective domestic titles last season.
According to Yahoo Sport, Milan’s failure to match the achievements of their high-spending counterparts, having only managed a sixth-place finish in Serie A last term, means that they cannot financially justify their huge transfer splurge.
It is said that the Milanese side may now be forced to offload star players in order to balance the books, with Manchester United apparently preparing a move to take advantage of the situation and snare Bonucci, the standout signing of last summer, from the San Siro.
Milan are expected to be forced out of European competition for the 2018-19 season, meaning that their qualification for next season’s Europa League will be abdicated by the Adjudicatory Chamber of UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body this week.
The taking of action against Milan is said to be seen as a warning to other overspending clubs and has not only raised doubts over the futures of big Milan signings like Bonucci, but also over their ownership.
I Rossoneri’s disappointing domestic campaign which saw Gennaro Gattuso’s side fall well short of the Serie A title race as they limped to a sixth-place finish made Milan’s financial losses, following a summer of heavy spending, impossible to keep within the boundaries permitted by FFP.
An attempt was made, and rejected, by Milan in December to restructure the club’s finances. UEFA’s Investigatory Chamber rebuffed the proposal, on the grounds that “there are still uncertainties in relation to the refinancing of the loans to be paid back in October 2018 and the financial guarantees provided by the main shareholder.”
Milan have recently released further response to the situation, posting a video on social media in which the club called for “equality, judgement based on the facts and equal rules for all”, insisting that the club had “worked to make the organisation more efficient so we could run it in a virtuous manner.” The video is said to have been poorly received by UEFA officials.
Bonucci was the club’s largest individual player investment last summer, having cost €42m in a shock switch from Serie A rivals Juventus last July, and is now apparently among Manchester United’s list of primary targets to strengthen their central defence.
It is said that Jose Mourinho’s alternatives include Toby Alderweireld, Jerome Boateng, Milan Skriniar and Caglar Soyuncu as last season’s Premier League runners-up look to relaunch an assault on local rivals and champions Manchester City next term.
The desperate situation at the San Siro could make Bonucci a very strong candidate to bolster Mourinho’s defensive ranks.