Controversial agent Mino Raiola granted a select group of media personnel entry to a meeting in his kitchen on Sunday, where he explained why his client, goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, decided to turn down a new contract at AC Milan.
The 18-year-old's representative claims Milan employed threatening and bullying tactics when trying to ensure it retained the services of Donnarumma, one of the most highly-rated youngsters on the planet, amid reported interest from the continent's biggest clubs.
But Donnarumma and Raiola didn't bow to this alleged pressure, and the shot-stopper is potentially on the transfer market this summer after rejecting the contract offer on Thursday. His current deal with the club he debuted for at just 16 expires next June.
"The situation had become too violent and hostile, so there was no way out," Raiola stated, as translated by Football Italia.
"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.
"Now there is a genuine risk he could miss a year. His quality makes that improbable, but this is already on the verge of bullying."
Raiola stresses that Donnarumma was prepared to sign a new contract with the Rossoneri and that negotiations were 95 percent complete, but the teenager pulled the plug on talks when he feared for the safety of his family.
(Photo courtesy: Action Images)
"It was Milan that lost Donnarumma," Raiola continued. "He said to me, 'Honestly Mino, I don't feel it is right to carry on negotiations when these people are insulting and threatening me and my family.'
"For example, there was a banner in front of the club headquarters. A club should protect its players and remove the banner. A club should support a player and encourage his career, not threaten him with having to be left in the stands."
Although an official response wasn't expected from Milan until Monday, Arianna Ravelli of Corriere della Sera published quotes from chief executive Marco Fassone shortly after Raiola's address was released at midnight local time.
Fassone said Milan did everything it "could've done to give Gigio and his family the desire and pleasure to remain," but said he will look elsewhere for a goalkeeper while his No. 1 choice only has a year left on his paperwork at the San Siro. He didn't rule out repaired relations between Donnarumma and Milan, though.
"If he were to reconsider, he would not only be welcomed with open arms by the club, but in the end also by the Milan supporters," he said, with translation from theScore. "Moods change quickly."
Fassone added: "Bitterness comes from the unpleasantness with which the situation was conducted. It could have been done without damaging the club, and instead they've cost Milan €100 million. If Donnarumma is worth this much at 18 years old, it must also be because the club invested in him and had the courage to launch him in the first team."
Expect the Donnarumma versus Milan saga to be one of the leading narratives of this summer's transfer window.