Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has offered his support to AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma as the teenager faces an angry backlash over his decision to leave the San Siro.
Donnarumma last week announced he will not be extending his contract with the Rossoneri, comments that have sparked a scramble for a player who is widely regarded as the best young goalkeeper on the planet.
Milan were left "sad and disheartened" by the 18-year-old's decision not to renew his deal, with supporters opting for a more colourful method of illustrating their displeasure. During Italy's Under-21 European Championship match with Denmark on Sunday, Azzurri supporters threw bundles of fake dollar bills in the goalkeeper's direction, with one sign behind the goal reading 'Dollarumma'.
At the centre of the debacle has been Mino Raiola, Donnarumma's agent who on Sunday proclaimed Milan have only themselves to blame for losing the Italy international. Raiola also represents United's Pogba, who has come out to defend the under-fire youngster.
"Donnarumma soon best in the world deserves only respect for all he's done until now," Pogba wrote on Twitter.
In not entirely different circumstances, Pogba left United as a 19-year-old in 2012 to sign for Juventus with former manager Sir Alex Ferguson making no secret of the fact he distrusted Raiola and the role he played in the move.
Donnarumma has been linked with a host of Europe's elite – including Manchester United. The Mirror reported earlier this summer United will consider a move for the 18-year-old in the event of David de Gea leaving Old Trafford for Real Madrid. It is the Spanish giants who have emerged as the early favourites to sign Donnarumma, however, with both AS and Marca featuring him on their front pages over the weekend – with the former suggesting the decision not to renew his deal at Milan has now moved him closet to the Santiago Bernabeu.
The relationship between Milan and Donnarumma and Raiola has continued to deteriorate over the weekend, with the agent accusing the Serie A club trying to "bully" the youngster into signing a new deal.
He told Sky Sport Italia: "The situation had become too violent and hostile, so there was no way out. "We took a decision that we didn't want to take. It was nothing to do with money. We were threatened. Donnarumma's family was threatened, both with not playing anymore and threatened with death. You can't keep a player by threatening him."