Ivory Coast midfielder Franck Kessie has put an end to the long-running transfer saga regarding his future by completing a move from Atalanta to AC Milan. Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Roma had all been linked with his services in recent months but Vincenzo Montella's side have finally won the race for his signature.
Kessie had become into one of the most sought after players around Europe following a remarkable campaign at Atalanta. The 20-year-old midfielder has scored six goals and provided four assists in 30 Serie A appearances, helping them to finish in fourth place, just behind Juventus, Roma and Napoli.
Antonio Conte tried to lure him to Chelsea during the January transfer window following the big-money departure of Oscar to China. Kessie's agent, George Atangana, confirmed at the time that Atalanta rejected a €25m offer from the blues - while adding that Chelsea faced competition from most of the other Premier League giants.
"We have a lot of interest from the Premier League – Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal," Kessie's agent then said to The Guardian.
The midfielder finally stayed at Atalanta until the end of the season but last month Kessie's agent suggested that his client was going to make a move to a bigger club in the coming summer transfer window.
Atangana later added that Arsenal, Liverpool and City remained interested in the Ivory Coast starlet but claimed that Roma had emerged as the new frontrunners to win the race.
"I must admit that Roma have the advantage for Kessie, but we haven't closed a deal yet because there are other top clubs interested who continue calling me," Atangana said. "There are many overseas clubs interested in him. Manchester City, where his friend Yaya Toure plays in the same role. Liverpool, where their manager Jurgen Klopp knows how to help young players develop.
"Then there's Arsenal, whose manager is very close to French-speaking players. I have to say they are not the only Premier League clubs who are after him, as there are many more too. Franck is close to many clubs and close to none."
However, Kessie has finally snubbed Roma and his English suitors in order to continue his career at Milan instead. "AC Milan announces the signing of Franck Kessie from Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio, through to 2019," the club confirmed. "The contract implies the player will join the club on a two year loan period with obligation to buy."
Milan have failed to disclose the details of the agreement but different sources from Italy are claiming that Montella's side will pay €28m (£24.5m, $31.6m) to complete the deal. Kessie becomes the second signing of the summer for the Rossoneri after centre-back Mateo Musacchio's arrival from Villarreal.
The Italian giants are planning to build a team to recover their prestige following the acquisition of the club by Li Yonghong. Recent reports claimed that the Italians are also ready to fight with Chelsea and United for the signing of Real Madrid star Alvaro Morata.