Franck Kessie has rejected the latest offer of a new contract from AC Milan, which has opened the door for a third Premier League suitor to join Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in a transfer battle.
Kessie is in the final year of his contract with AC Milan, whom he has played for since 2017. The former Atalanta man has established himself as a key player for the Serie A side. His form has dipped somewhat this season, although Milan are sticking with him.
There is ongoing uncertainty about where he will be playing next season, which may be distracting him. But Milan are keen to make sure he remains at San Siro.
After losing Gianluigi Donnarumma and Hakan Calhanoglu on free transfers in the summer, they would be fearful of seeing another key player leave on the same terms.
But distance remains between what they are offering Kessie and what he wants to receive from the next contract he signs.
According to a recent report from Corriere Dello Sport, Milan were ready to make a new attempt to convince Kessie to stay. But it seems to have been short-lived.
The latest update from Sky Sport expert Gianluca Di Marzio reveals that Kessie has declined Milan’s latest offer of a €6.5m annual salary. The Ivory Coast international is holding out for €9m.
A compromise is still looking unlikely, especially given that Kessie could have the pick of Europe’s top clubs on a free transfer.
Di Marzio revealed that the list of suitors for the 24-year-old includes Manchester United, Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona.
Man Utd are looking to revamp their midfield, where they lack defensive-minded players. Scott McTominay and Fred usually occupy the double pivot in that territory, but there is a feeling they could be upgraded upon, or helped by the addition of a more robust player.
Kessie has a range of qualities that should appeal to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who recently claimed his ideal midfield player was someone who could do it all.
Arsenal rival Tottenham for Kessie
News of interest from Arsenal appears to be fresh. The Gunners have also been transforming their midfield in recent years. This summer, they signed Albert Sambi Lokonga.
There are concerns about a lack of depth, though, as exposed by the recent injury to Granit Xhaka. A further concern is that Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny will be away on African Cup of Nations duty in January.
Ivorian Kessie would not help in that regard. But he would be an exciting option for the rest of the time if they can convince him.
Given previous reports of him being close to joining Tottenham, it would be an even sweeter signing for the Gunners.
But Kessie has suitors all across the continent. It remains to be seen whether he even ends up in the Premier League. For now, it’s all to play for.