Will AC Milan Regret Selling Bryan Cristante to Benfica?

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentSeptember 2, 2014

Three years from now, will AC Milan wish they could take back their summer transfer deadline day decision to sell wunderkind Bryan Cristante to Benfica for €6 million?


Benfica: Transfer Market Specialists

PlayerFeeSigned FromSold ToFeeProfit
Axel Witsel€8MStandard Liege (2011)FC Zenit (2012)€40M€32M
Fabio Coentrao€900KRio Ave (2007)Real Madrid (2011)€30M€29.1M
Nemanja Matic[1]Chelsea (2011)Chelsea (2014)€25M€25M
David Luiz€500KVitoria (2007)Chelsea (2011)€25M [1]€24.5M
Angel Di Maria€6M Rosario Central (2007)Real Madrid (2010) €25M €19M
Lazar Markovic€10M Partizan (2013)Liverpool (2014) €25M€15M
Jan Oblak€1.7MOlimpija (2010)Atletico Madrid (2014)€15.9M€14.2M
Ramires €7.8M Cruzeiro (2009)Chelsea (2010) €21.4M €13.6M
Javi Garcia €7M Real Madrid (2009) Manchester City (2012) €19.9M €12.9M
  • [1] "Luiz has signed a contract that ties him to Chelsea until the summer of 2016 and joins for a fee of €25 million, while young midfielder Nemanja Matic will also move to Estadio da Luz at the end of the season," per ESPN FC.
  • List is not exhaustive; just noteworthy deals. 
  • Benfica do not reap 100 percent of the profits, as a portion of their transfers are filtered through third-party ownership, per Andy Brassell at ESPN FC.

Cristante, a 19-year-old, 6'1", 172-pound Italian, arrives at Benfica at the same age that Coentrao, Luiz, Di Maria and Markovic did. 

Milan chief executive officer Adriano Galliani is already on the public relations offensive. 

"I offered him [Cristante] a loan, it was the most logical thing, at Benfica or another Italian side," Galliani said, per Milan's official website. "But he said he didn't want to play against Milan and so he went abroad."

  • SPIN: Cristante could not comprehend the thought of lining up against his beloved Milan team. Selling him to Benfica for €6 million benefits all parties.
  • REALITY: Milan held leverage over Cristante, who was contracted to the Rossoneri until 2018Galliani could have easily told Cristante: "Kid, if you do not go out on loan, you can train by yourself for the next four years."

Galliani probably thought on deadline day: "€6 million for a teenager with three Serie A appearances? Great deal."

If Galliani reviewed every single one of Benfica transfers, he would have noticed a trend which should have alerted him not to sell Cristante.

Benfica made bets ranging from €6-10 million on Witsel, Di Maria, Markovic, Ramires and Garcia.

Varying from a one-to-three year period from buying-selling, Benfica amassed a combined €92.5 million profit on the aforementioned five players. 


What Benfica See in Cristante

In February, beIN sports commentator Matteo Bonetti discussed how impressive of a prospect Cristante is, per Bleacher Report:  

Bryan Cristante can play as a deep-lying playmaker or as a mezz'ala—the Italian term for a side midfielder in a 4-3-3 formation.

He doesn't neglect defensive duties and seems composed beyond his years when he has possession of the ball.

As a matter of fact, his vision is the one trait which is making Milan fans salivate the most.

The way he picks out passes despite being surrounded by defenders is remarkable.

Cristante has all the tools to be an effective modern-day midfielder at a big Italian club. 

Despite Cristante possessing immense talent, Galliani took a pragmatic approach. 

Cristante's inexperience was a factor to sell him in light of the €6 million offer. 

On the other hand, Benfica broke down Cristante's three Serie A games. 

The cameo in a 0-0 draw against Chievo Verona would have been excluded since he only played five minutes plus three minutes of stoppage time.

In Milan's 3-0 win over Atalanta, he hit the crossbar, scored a long-range goal and led Milan in passes (65).

During Milan's 4-3 defeat to Sassuolo Domenico Berardi, Cristante created a goal for Mario Balotelli. 

Cristante contributed two goals from his only two starts in Serie A.

No wonder Benfica rate Cristante as their second-most valued transfer of the summer, behind 25-year-old Greek international Andreas Samaris, a €10/£8 million signing from Olympiacos.


Bottom Line

Benfica may have discovered a new cash-cow in Cristante.

In three years' time, Milan might be forced into saving face by submitting a substantial bid for Cristante, who by then could be an elite midfielder. 

It would be reminiscent of Chelsea buying back Matic after inexplicably adding the Serbian into a packaged deal for Luiz.

That was an error in judgement like Inter Milan not projecting Andrea Pirlo's upside, per I Think Therefore I Play (h/t the Daily Mail):

I played a lot in my first season at Inter.

Pre-season went really well, and Gigi Simoni gave me plenty of game time—a starter and from the bench.

Then, it was Mircea Lucescu, who tended to favour the older guys.

Luciano Castellini thought I was OK, while Roy Hodgson mispronounced my name. 

He called me Pirla (a term used in Milan dialect roughly translated as [expletive]), perhaps understanding my true nature more than the other managers.

We went through four coaches that year (1999).

I'd wake up in the morning and not remember who my coach was.

Then-Inter president Massimo Moratti later confessed to prematurely selling Pirlo.

"He [Pirlo] was a player I liked a lot, I signed him and I was really keen on him, but then I did this mistake," Moratti said, per Sky Italia (h/t Nadia Carminati at Sky Sports). "Andrea Pirlo's sale has been a really bad mistake."

You know what else is a really bad mistake?

Milan selling Cristante to Benfica.



Statistics via WhoScored 


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