Why AC Milan's Ultras Reduced Starlet 'Gigio' to Tears Over Contract Row and 'Parasite Brother'

Behind one of the goals at the San Siro on Wednesday (December 13) night, a banner was unfurled that stretched across three sections of the stand. AC Milan eased to a 3-0 win against Verona to advance to the quarterfinal, but the message from the home fans was not of celebration. It was directed at the team's 18-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, and it spat a sense of loathing at him.

"Psychological violence by giving you six million euros a season and signing your parasite brother?" the banner read. "It's time to leave... our patience with you is over!" Donnarumma left the field in tears, consoled by his manager Gennaro Gattuso and, then, Leonardo Bonucci in the home dressing room.

So, what has drawn the home fans in Milan to be so enraged by the teenage goalkeeper that many believe is already among the best in his position in Europe?

Donnarumma was signed by Milan at the age of 14 from Napoli, for a fee reported to be around 250,000 euros. The six-foot-five-inch goalkeeper swiftly impressed at AC Milan and made his debut for the first team in 2014, aged just 16 years and 242 days. As with many young players that flicker with stardom, Donnarumma was quickly linked with some of the biggest clubs across the continent.

In England, Manchester United was meant to be considering Donnarumma as a long-term successor for David de Gea. Chelsea and Manchester City were said to have taken a look, too. But, in recent weeks, it has been the giants of Spain and France that have been linked heavily with the goalkeeper, and the suggestion was that Donnarumma was ready to quit Milan for a move.

Italy's Gazetta dello Sport claimed on Tuesday that Donnarumma had asked his agent Mino Raiola to cancel his deal at Milan as he prepared to leave for either Real Madrid or Paris Saint-Germain. Fans at the San Siro were so angered by this news, having seen Donnarumma seemingly change his mind after less than six months. For in July, the goalkeeper signed a new 11 million euros deal that would keep him at the club until 2021, telling fans that he never had any intention to leave or betray them.

Gianluigi Donnarumma
Gianluigi Donnarumma at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy, December 13. Reports that Donnarumma wants to leave AC Milan has enraged fans. Marco Luzzani/Getty

The month before Donnarumma signed his new deal, Italian fans threw fake bank notes at the goalkeeper when he was playing for Italy against Denmark at the European Under-21 Championship in Poland.

"I was raised at this club and I never had any doubts in my head about staying," he said. "I'm very happy and proud to be with Milan. I say sorry to the fans, I repeat that I have never had the intention of betraying them and I thank them for all the support they have given me in these two seasons."

A day after the announcement of Donnarumma's new deal, Milan signed his older brother, Antonio, also a goalkeeper for 1.7 million euros. Antonio was developed as a young goalkeeper at Milan but never enjoyed the same success, moving on to Piacenza, Gubbio and Bari in the second tier of Italian football.

But now, the prospect of Donnarumma changing his mind at Milan has drawn the wrath of the San Siro faithful. Despite his talent, Donnarumma has been told to leave and to take his brother with him.