'Nothing is impossible' - Bonucci brings hope to AC Milan
MILAN, Italy (AP)
Nothing is impossible. That's AC Milan's new unofficial slogan following Leonardo Bonucci's surprise transfer from defending six-time Serie A champion Juventus.
Presenting fans to Bonucci via Weibo yesterday, Milan CEO Marco Fassone recounted how Italy's top defender moved to a rival club.
"It started by chance and it seemed impossible but Leo interrupted me right away and said, 'Nothing is impossible. When there's desire to do things you can get them done.'"
Milan has been on a spending spree following the club's sale to a Chinese-led consortium for US$800 million in April, and Bonucci is the top acquisition, so far.
"Leo doesn't require introductions," Fassone said. "It's an extraordinary reinforcement for us. ... He completes a mosaic sought after by (Milan chief sport officer Massimiliano) Mirabelli a mix of younger players and experienced leaders who will make the road ahead easier."
Other recent signings by Milan included forward Andre Silva from FC Porto; midfielders Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Franck Kessie and Andrea Conti (Atalanta), Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen) and Lucas Biglia (Lazio); and defender Mateo Musacchio (Villarreal).
Bonucci thanked Kessie for letting him wear his preferred No. 19 shirt, and pointed to Milan's seven European Cups and Champions League titles as a reference point for a club that did not even qualify for continental play the last three years and hasn't won Serie A since 2011.
"Milan deserves to be among the elite again in Italy and Europe," Bonucci said. "When you are united you win. The strength has to be that of the squad whereas singular players alone can do nothing. We can get back to the top and that's what this club deserves."
Bonucci's transfer fee reportedly topped the 40 million euro (US$45 million) mark, and the centre back was signed to a five-year contract worth up to €10 million euros (US$11 million) per season, including bonuses - making him the highest-paid player in Italy.
Meanwhile, Juventus are reportedly near to signing prized winger Federico Bernardeschi from Fiorentina for a reported fee of €40 million (US$45 million). The Gazzetta dello Sport reported Juventus will sign the 23-year-old Bernardeschi to five-year contract worth €4 million (US$4.6 million) per season.