For the second year running, AC Milan and Juventus have completed a massive piece of business.
The Rossoneri signed striker Gonzalo Higuain and defender Mattia Caldara on Thursday, while granting Leonardo Bonucci’s wish to return to the Old Lady.
(Photo courtesy: AC Milan)
Higuain left Juventus on an initial €18-million loan deal with a €36-million option to buy. Caldara and Bonucci switched clubs in a direct swap, with the defenders being valued at €35 million apiece, per a Juventus press release.
Milan made it clear to Higuain that the loan deal would become permanent, according to Sky Sport Italia’s Gianluca Di Marzio, and that it was necessary to split the financial burden between this year and next.
Bonucci, who joined Milan last summer for €42 million, requested a sensational move back to Turin following the club’s change in ownership. That put into motion the series of events that sent Higuain and Caldara to the San Siro.
Considered the new face of Milan’s project, Bonucci replaced Riccardo Montolivo as the club’s captain last July. He rebounded from a poor start, striking a solid partnership with Alessio Romagnoli in the second half of the campaign, and angered Juventus supporters by celebrating at the Allianz Stadium earlier this year. It still wasn’t enough to get Milan into the Champions League, which was the ultimate goal.
As the Chinese regime ceded control to hedge fund Elliott Management, it became clear that Bonucci would leave. The men who brought Bonucci to the club, Marco Fassone and Massimiliano Mirabelli, were fired, while rumors of a departure gained steam.
Just days into his new job, sporting director Leonardo agreed to work with Juventus on a potential transfer, asking for Higuain and Caldara in return. The seven-time defending Serie A champions were apparently looking to offload the Argentinian striker and his wages following Cristiano Ronaldo’s costly arrival.
Milan’s proposal was enough to convince Juventus.
Higuain will now give the goals-averse Rossoneri the striker they need, and allow precocious striker Patrick Cutrone a necessary breather. Caldara also promises to form an exciting center-back partnership with Romagnoli at club and international level.
Bonucci, meanwhile, will rejoin close friend Giorgio Chiellini in defence and give Juventus another push toward an elusive Champions League title.