With Franck Kessié’s AC Milan contract set to expire next summer and the player having signalled he won’t be extending his stay, the 24-year-old Ivorian midfielder is set to be the biggest free transfer signing of 2022.
He’s already been linked to Bayern Munich, to PSG, to Juventus, and to Manchester United. He’s also been linked to Barcelona and Liverpool, and it’s those clubs that are the focus of the latest transfer chatter on the Kessié front.
That’s the important part the story according to Catalan outlet El Nacional, at least, who see Liverpool as the main opposition—and perhaps even outright favourites—standing in the way of Barcelona signing Kessié.
The paper say Barcelona had been frontrunners to sign the player, with negotiations at an advanced stage, only for Liverpool to arrive willing to offer double the signing-on bonus the financially troubled Blaugranas can manage.
The Catalan club, they say, had been prepared to pay a €15M signing-on bonus. The Reds, though, are willing to pay Kessié €30M to convince him. If nothing else, it’s a reminder that so called free transfers aren’t free.
Higher wages and a considerable signing-on bonus are standard, as are higher agent payouts, when there’s no transfer fee involved in the signing of a player. As a result, savings over the life of contract are often slight.
It also becomes important, for a player seeking a free transfer payday, to establish that there are as many clubs as possible interested—and so far it’s really only been outlets in other countries linking the Reds with Kessié.