AC Milan great Paolo Maldini fears Gianluigi Donnarumma’s relationship with the club’s supporters might already be beyond repair.
The 19-year-old goalkeeper became an unpopular figure with many fans last year, when a protracted transfer saga ended with him signing a new four-year deal after courting interest from other clubs.
Last Sunday, Donnarumma reportedly tried to throw his shirt into the crowd following the 1-1 draw with Atalanta only for a number of ultras to force him to turn away from the stands.
The unrest and the imminent arrival of Pepe Reina from Napoli has increased speculation over Donnarumma’s future, despite sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli insisting they want him to stay.
And Maldini, who won seven Serie A titles and was a five-time European champion with the Rossoneri, admits the youngster’s situation is a sad one.
“In life, I’ve learned that, if you don’t live in the environment where things are happening, it’s hard to understand the reality of it,” he told Tuttosport.
“But communication is very important and there have certainly been mistakes on one side and the other.
“I don’t know how the situation will be solved. What I’m sorry for is that this is a boy who is so strong, so young and so promising, and he’s already burned bridges with some of the fans.
“It’s not a good thing for anyone, the boy or the club.”
Milan head into Sunday’s clash with Fiorentina knowing that only a win will be enough to guarantee a Europa League spot.
Maldini concedes results have not met expectations given the significant investment made in the playing squad before the start of the season.
“It’s been a complicated year, partly because of the change of ownership after so many years, partly because there was an expensive transfer period that brought so many new players in and made it difficult to create a team,” he added.
“The results are certainly not what everyone had hoped for at the start of the year.”