As expected, AC Milan and Eintracht Frankfurt have done their business. The Rossoneri have signed Ante Rebić for an undisclosed fee, while die Adler have gotten Andre Silva. That all seems pretty normal, so why are we talking about it? Well, dear reader, we’re talking about it because this whole thing is shady as hell.
Okay, let’s rewind. In 2018, Fiorentina sold Rebić to Frankfurt for a paltry €2 million. While the Croatian never impressed for the Viola, there was never any doubt that he was a good player; it was just a matter of fit. He exploded the next season to the tune of 10 goals and 8 assists as a wide forward, prompting Milan to swoop in with a swap deal, sending misfit Andre Silva the other way. After a difficult opening to his career in Milan under Marco Giampaolo, Stefano Pioli quickly got the best out of him and turned him into the team’s most important attacker besides Zlatan Ibrahimović.
Still with us? Good. Because here’s where things get murky. The reason Fiorentina were okay with just €2 million as their fee for Rebić was because they’d also get 50% of any future fees for him. After he helped Croatia reach the World Cup final, it was pretty clear that he was worth something like €30 million at the absolute bare minimum.
So when Frankfurt announced they had paid just €9 million for Silva, the Viola immediately realized something was up. Despite his struggles in Serie A (2 goals in 24 appearances), he’s been quite good in the Bundesliga, notching 16 goals and 5 assists in all competitions last season. At 24 years old and with 35 Portugal caps to his name, you’d expect a player with a similar profile to go for a lot more money than €9 million, which is less than what Cagliari paid for Giovanni Simeone. Clearly, something was afoot.
Suspicions were confirmed when Milan refused to disclose the details of their deal for Rebić. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the Rossoneri decided to part with Silva for well under market value to get Rebić for well under market value, thus denying Fiorentina a considerable capital gain. While such skulduggery is to be expected from a club owned by a hedge fund, it’s still a clear violation of FIFA, UEFA, and national tax rules.
Naturally, the Viola don’t want to let this one go. Joe Barone and company have threatened to take the matter to FIFA, which sounds pretty grand until you remember that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS or TAS, depending on your acronym) is the same entity that allowed the Rossoneri to blatantly break any and all Financial Fair Play rules back in 2018.
While the threat of Rocco Commisso’s money may be enough to force TAS to pretend to care about justice, the Elliott Fund’s shamelessness is another matter entirely. If nothing else, we can expect an embargo between Tuscany and the red side of Milan. Hoping for the authorities to enforce the laws they themselves trumpet as proof of their impartiality, however, is a step too far. The Milans of the world will always Milan and always get away with it, much to the glee of their own fans and the dismay of anyone with a shred of conscience.