Real Madrid will reportedly allow Diego Lopez to join Italian giants AC Milan on a free transfer despite the player still being under contract, and such a move would be a slap to the face for both Lopez and UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations.
Gianluca Di Marzio's David Amoyal claims that the goalkeeper's agent will meet with Milan's club officials to finalise a deal, with the Rossoneri only paying performance-based bonuses at the end of the 2014-15 season:
Diego Lopez is close to joining Milan. His agent Quillon will reach Forte dei Marmi tonight, where Milan’s CEO Galliani is currently located. They have already reached an agreement with Real Madrid: Diego Lopez will join on a free transfer, Milan will pay some bonuses to Real Madrid. Milan have to reach an agreement with Diego Lopez, they could close the deal on the basis of a three-year contract.
Lopez isn't a free agent—he's still under contract for the 2014-15 season. So what's the problem? Is there no market for an experienced, established stopper? According to El Confidencial (h/t to talkSPORT), both Liverpool and Napoli have expressed interest in the player.
The notion that Los Blancos would allow Lopez to join Milan like that seems absurd, but as shared by Italianfootballdaily.com's Marco Messina, Sky Italia are reporting the same story:
Galliani will meet Diego Lopez's agent tonight. The only things that's missing is the agreement with the player. [Sky]— Marco Messina (@Marcocalcio22) August 8, 2014
Does that mean that Lopez is so desperate to leave Madrid and absolutely bent on joining Milan? That's not what he told club directors, according to Goal (for beIN Sports):
"I'm the best goalkeeper here, and you know it."
Is it really possible that Real would allow a player under contract to leave the club for free, with multiple potential suitors looking into his signature? Perhaps, but it would be highly unlikely, and in the age of FFP, it would not be a good look.
Apart from the obvious message it would send to Lopez ("This is how much we care about your contributions."), it would only give the many fans and pundits critical of Madrid's spending more ammunition.
Lopez likely wouldn't command a huge transfer fee on the open market, but with every club's budget being carefully monitored by UEFA, every little bit helps. Not even bothering to negotiate a high transfer fee would equate to laughing both UEFA and all those critics in the face.
I wrote an article on the topic of the club's spending and its high debts at the time of the James Rodriguez signing, pointing out that people can't blame Real for taking advantage of a system that is often aimed at helping them.
Would Real Madrid really let Lopez walk for free?
I stand by that statement: If people are enabling Real to go about their business this way, there is no reason to turn your anger towards Los Blancos. But passing on a transfer fee? That would surely make the calls for further reformations of the system even louder.
Florentino Perez and the Real Madrid brass are too smart for something like that to happen, and I fully expect them to open up negotiations and look at which club can put the best offer on the table for Los Blancos.
Perhaps the news that they could potentially be willing to move Lopez for free will spring other teams into action, leading to a small bidding war. Either way, it's highly unlikely that the club would just hand him over to Milan for the sake of getting rid of him.
The reported move currently on the table would be an insult to both the player and UEFA, and for all of Real's might, that latter party is one they shouldn't tempt in the age of FFP.