As one of the most overperforming clubs in Europe, Atalanta have become a starting point for many great European careers. The Bergamo-based club has become an example to teams all across the globe on how to build squads, develop them, and then sell them on for a huge fee. One player who was a beneficiary of the Bergamo academy project, arguably the best in Italy, was Franck Kessie.
The Ivory Coast international joined the club in 2014, and by 2017 was joining AC Milan in a long-term deal that could see him become one of the most expensive African players in Serie A history.
With a hugely impressive spell at San Siro that has seen over 150 games in red and black, though, his time could be coming to an end. The move from Bergamo to Milan is not a large one geographically; expect the next move that Kessie makes to take him out of Italy entirely. Though some tentative links exist with clubs like Juventus, it is believed that a move to the Premier League is expected for the 48-cap international.
Kessie, 24, has been a regular for Milan in their revival, becoming an essential name for the club and a first name on the team sheet for current coach Stefano Pioli. With a contract rejected by the player and his contract up in the summer of 2022, then, Milan are sweating that they could lose an asset that would normally be worth north of €50m for nothing.
The player is heavily linked with a move to England, with contract renewals either outright rejected or stalled upon when offered by Milan. It is believed that a desire to win titles is the key, and Milan’s failure to claim trophies for much of the last decade has convinced the player to move on.
Where will Franck Kessie go?
The two most prominently linked names at present are both in England; Liverpool and Chelsea. The Reds and Blues respectively are keen to snap up the player for nothing, and would be happy to meet the players terms that Milan simply cannot. Chelsea are believed to be especially keen, though, with the club desperate to add new midfield runners and to increase their goal output from the middle of the park.
A tactically versatile player who could cover numerous positions and who is a fine set piece taker, Kessie would be the ideal addition for just about any club looking for more power. The English top-flight would make a natural next step, too, with the players physical and technical attributes perfect for life in the Premier League.
His tactical understanding has developed massively since arriving in Italy, and Kessie now looks every bit the prodigy he was described as at youth level. With a big move set to arrive this summer, then, it looks like Milan might not be able to keep a player who would be a cornerstone of their future. It would be the second summer in a row that Milan have lost a first-team name for nothing, with Gianluigi Donnarumma making the same decision to leave this summer, heading to Paris Saint-Germain.