AC Milan is doing everything in its power to convince 18-year-old goalkeeping sensation Gianluigi Donnarumma to sign a new contract, lest the heir to Gianluigi Buffon’s throne find a new long-term home.
Unfortunately, the manager is not playing along.
AC Milan boss Vincenzo Montella rejected recent reports that the club could promise to make Donnarumma captain if he signs a new deal, and had some interesting reasons why.
First, he cited the obvious. “He [Donnarumma] is like a child – that’s my first thought,” Montella said when asked about the possibility of Donnarumma becoming captain. While that quote can certainly be taken out of context after translation – the use of “like a child” could just as well be a strict reference to Donnarumma’s age without the insinuation of immaturity – Montella’s next explanation cannot be warped.
“I am contrary in general to the idea that goalkeepers should be captains,” Montella said in his pre-match press conference ahead of AC Milan’s game Sunday against AS Roma. “The captain has to be someone who helps keep everyone in check and marshals the troops.”
That’s a stunning quote from an Italian who has watched Buffon captain the Italian national team to a World Cup title, and lead Juventus to
nine seven Serie A titles and on the doorstep of the Champions League final at age 39. Goalkeepers have served as successful captains all across the globe, and they are often the most responsible player for “marshaling the troops” as he organizes the back line.
The merits of handing the captaincy of a world-renowned club to an 18-year-old are certainly debatable no matter his talent ceiling, and Montella is well within his rights to refuse giving such a young player his armband, but for the Italian boss to say that goalkeepers don’t make good captains makes a mockery of his knowledge of his own country’s generational superstar.