Cost-based analysis and the Leao precedent: Why Maignan is more likely to leave than Theo Hernandez

Cost-based analysis and the Leao precedent: Why Maignan is more likely to leave than Theo Hernandez
Cost-based analysis and the Leao precedent: Why Maignan is more likely to leave than Theo Hernandez

There has been some rather worrying talk in the media about the potential sale of Theo Hernandez this summer but Mike Maignan is a far more realistic candidate to leave, according to what we have learned.

As our colleagues at write, the financial situation that Milan finds itself in is positive. The data on the growth of the brand’s value and the self-sustainability process carried out by Elliott Management and then continued by RedBird Capital have been clear to see.

The Rossoneri recorded a profit for the first time in well over a decade in the last accounts published, and the positive economic work is enough in itself to guarantee Milan an ambitious summer transfer window without the need to make big sales.

That has many fans asking a rather obvious question: why is there constant talk of Theo Hernandez and Maignan being potential candidates to leave the club in a big-money move? We can try to explain it.

The player trading model

The two French players both have contracts expiring with the Rossoneri in 2026, therefore in two years’ time, and are negotiating an extension with Milan.

Both Theo and Maignan have asked the management for a substantial increase in salary which reflects their status as elite players in their role, but it would affect the internally imposed ‘salary ceiling’ at Milan, forcing reflections.

For Rafael Leao this type of reasoning was not valid, because they believed his new salary of €5m net per season plus €2m in potential bonuses is fair market value. Leao, due to his age and role, has a price tag that even in the worst case is unlikely to fall below €100m.

This is a crucial reason in the management’s development of the idea of ​​renewing the contract of any player. To simplify, it is a cost-based analysis which takes various factors into consideration.

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By transferring this type of reasoning to Theo and Maignan, things change. Both ask for wages equal if not higher than that of Leao, but here the management’s judgment is divergent. The duo are both highly regarded, that goes without saying, but to what extent?

Between the two, the one who is closest to Leao in terms of importance and level is certainly Theo Hernandez. The French full-back is 26 years old and is already considered one of the best in the world in his role, attracting links with Real Madrid, Manchester City and Bayern Munich.

As with the Portuguese, Theo – in the worst case scenario – would have a valuation that would almost certainly not fall below Milan’s minimum requests of €70-80m, especially given how few elite level left-backs are around.

Milan’s player trading model is somewhat unique in Italy because they do not have to sell anyone to pay the bills, but the Sandro Tonali case shows us that there will always be clubs out there that can offer way above what is fair market value.

Saudi clubs and Premier League sides – in that case Newcastle United, who are PSI-owned – have the spending power to match virtually anyone in the world at the moment and they were willing to meet Milan’s price. It doesn’t happen for every player, though.

The eagle could leave the nest

It is a different story for Maignan. Partly due to the position he plays and partly because of the physical problems that have plagued his recent seasons, he has a fluctuating and potentially more problematic market valuation.

Paying the former Lille man between €6-8m net per season would be a costly investment for Milan which could also lead to a domino of problems. First of all it would raise the club’s salary cap and secondly it would create a precedent that would be difficult to erase when it comes to the renewal of other players.

A bit like what happened with Leao, the contract signed last summer has now allowed Maignan and Theo to be able to aim for a clear figure while being able to count on an existing comparison, one that Milan’s own quality-price ratio established.

As mentioned, for Milan the renewals of Hernandez and Maignan do not start on the same basis: the management would be willing to make a greater financial sacrifice for the full-back than for the goalkeeper.

For this reason, Milan are concretely thinking of selling Maignan in the summer, but at the right price. We believe €70m is the figure considered ‘adequate’ by Milan who obviously hope for a potential auction to be sparked.

No offers have been received for Maignan, but the upcoming European Championship could play a key role. The strategy of Milan is to take advantage of the tournament to re-establish Maignan’s market valuation at a reasonable figure and subsequently evaluate the offers.

He remains on the radar of big clubs. Ligue 1 transfer expert Jonathan Johnson claimed in the past few days that Mike Maignan is of interest to a number of clubs in view of the summer window, including Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

With the sale of the goalkeeper, the club would also have the possibility of generating a very important capital gain. Maignan was in fact purchased for just over €15m in summer 2021, with around €6m left in residual value after three years of amortisation.

The feeling is that the choice has been made: the real potential departure for the Diavolo in the summer is Maignan. Having arrived to replace Gianluigi Donnarumma, him leaving amid a contract impasse would carry a certain degree of irony.