Milan's Donnarumma jeered to tears
MILAN, Italy (AP):
A visibly shaken Gianluigi Donnarumma was comforted by AC Milan teammate Leonardo Bonucci as insults poured down on the teenage goalkeeper from the fans. And that was only the warm-up.
Donnarumma has swiftly gone from being one of Milan's most adored players to its most hated.
After a protracted saga appeared to be settled in the offseason by Donnarumma signing a contract until 2021, speculation over his future has started again and supporters have had enough.
Despite the new deal being worth €6 million a year and including the signing of his older brother as Milan's third-choice goalkeeper, Donnarumma and his agent, Mino Raiola, are reportedly looking to annul the contract because he felt pressure to agree to it.
Before Wednesday's Italian Cup victory over Hellas Verona, fans unveiled a giant banner saying: "Moral abuse, 6 million a year and the signing of a parasite brother? Now go, our patience is finished."
There were jeers ahead of the kick-off when the 18-year-old Donnarumma's name was read out, and shouts for him to leave. He was in tears as he was comforted by Bonucci.
Donnarumma had to play the first half below the giant banner and his every touch was greeted with boos.
"It was an awful night that I didn't expect!" Donnarumma wrote on Instagram yesterday. "I never said nor wrote that I had suffered psychological pressure when I signed the contract. Despite everything, I am looking forward and have my mind on the next game ... Forza Milan!"
Milan, which are seventh in the standings, play Verona again in Serie A on Sunday.
"Of course he's upset, he's only 18," Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso said after Wednesday's match. "For the age that he is, there's no doubt that he will become the best goalkeeper in the world, but he's not calm and it can't be easy to go out on the pitch and be criticised by your own fans. I can only say that while he is with me, he will always have my total protection.
"They're turning a lad of 18 into a monster. And he doesn't deserve it, he has incredible values."
It's not the first time Donnarumma has faced insults from the stands. He had fake money thrown at him during Italy's Under-21 European Championship opener against Denmark in June.