There had been much positivity around AC Milan so far this transfer window, with the Rossoneri—buoyed by significant Chinese investment—investing heavily in a series of talented players.
Mateo Musacchio, Andre Silva, Ricardo Rodriguez and Franck Kessie have all already arrived, while Borussia Dortmund hotshot Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Chelsea’s Diego Costa are just two other names to have been linked with a move to Lombardy.
However, 18-year-old wonderkid Gianluigi Donnarumma looks to have ruled out being part of Milan’s revolution.
The stopper, who has been on the club’s books since 2013, dealt a blow to all those who still believe in the loyalty of footballers when he revealed on Thursday that he had no intention of extending his deal with Milan.
His decision will have put many of Europe’s giants on red alert, and while the youngster is destined for a glittering future at Milan or elsewhere, the club’s immediate future between the sticks remains uncertain.
Pepe Reina, one option, has ruled himself out, while Norberto Neto, Wojciech Szczesny and Mattia Perin are all reportedly being considered by the club.
One player who hasn’t been mooted as a potential successor to Donnarumma is Nigeria’s Vincent Enyeama, even though it’s not clear what the future holds for him at LOSC Lille.
Earlier in the year, Goal reported that incoming Dogues boss Marcelo Bielsa favoured Lille deputy Mike Maignan over Enyeama, while the Argentine coach is also believed to be keen on Manchester City flop Claudio Bravo, and Crystal Palace’s Steve Mandanda.
Media reports suggest that Enyeama’s age—the stopper is 34—counts against him in Bielsa’s eyes, although it’s worth noting that that still makes him five years younger than Gianluigi Buffon, fresh off the back of a sixth successive Scudetto.
Bravo himself is only eight months younger than Enyeama, while Petr Cech and Iker Casillas are both older.
Indeed, while he may not have had a vintage season with Lille, it wasn’t all that long ago that Enyeama was on the cusp of breaking Ligue 1’s record for consecutive minutes without conceding.
Just ask Nigeria fans now whether they’d like the experienced Cat back between the sticks, particularly after Daniel Akpeyi’s miserable outing against Bafana Bafana.
Despite an underwhelming campaign by his own high standards, Lille still had the second best defensive record in the bottom 11 teams in the league, and Enyeama demonstrated on occasion that he’s still capable of the kind of agility and heroic resistance that helped him make his name.
Milan’s new owners will expect an immediate return on their investment, although Vincenzo Montella has opted to place a lot of faith in youth, and will be aware that he must get the right man between the sticks in order to provide a stable base upon which his team can grow.
He could do a lot worse than Enyeama, particularly with Bielsa likely to be receptive to any offer for the keeper.
At a glance, the West African may not appear to be a long-term option for Milan, but the club have a track record for getting the best out of players deep into their 30s, just look at Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta, Alessandro Nesta and Clarence Seedorf.
Similarly, the evidence of Buffon—while an exceptional case—indicates that if Serie A players handle themselves well, they can excel long after they pass 35. The goalkeeper was only embarking on Juve’s remarkable run of six in a row and was, in the eyes of some, yet to reach his peak.
Enyeama may not be one of the prominent names linked with a move to Milan as Donnarumma’s replacement, but he’s experienced, he’s available, and he has the quality to remind Montella that class is permanent.