Diego Lopez: 'Something strange' led to Donnarumma replacing me
AC Milan goalkeeper Diego Lopez says that there was "something strange" behind the decision of former Rossoneri coach Sinisa Mihajlovic to bench him and start picking teenager Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Lopez began the 2015-16 season as Milan's first choice goalkeeper, but after a shaky run of form was surprisingly dropped by Mihajlovic last October, with 16-year-old Donnarumma becoming the youngest goalkeeper ever to start a Serie A game.
In November Lopez, 34, was sidelined for four months as he took treatment for tendonitis in his left knee but is now available for selection again. But Donnarumma, who turned 17 in February, has also kept his place after Mihajlovic was sacked in April and replaced by Cristian Brocchi.
The ex-Real Madrid goalkeeper told Marca that he had not been treated with full respect, while accepting that Donnarumma had now earned his starting spot.
"I was surprised by the attitude of Sinisa Mihajlovic, who did many strange things with me," Lopez said.
"Then I injured my knee, and was out for four months, and the truth is the kid did very well. One day just 20 minutes into the game, as I did not pass the ball short, he [Mihajlovic] sent out the sub keeper to warm up.
"Another time, after I conceded a goal, some crazy gestures began from the bench.
"He did not show me respect, and I don't know what the reasons were, but I know that there was something strange behind it all. But well, football has these things, and I never lacked respect for anyone. It's also true that Gianluigi deserves to be there."
Lopez also suffered a difficult time at former club Madrid, where he battled for a first team spot with long-time Blancos captain Iker Casillas, who at the time had fallen out with coach Jose Mourinho.
In the end the Galician left the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in summer 2014, with Casillas staying one more year.
The overall situation had been "sad" and "ugly," Lopez said. He added: "It did not affect me, although I was sometimes whistled and other times applauded by the fans.
"Madridismo let itself down in that situation, feelings were mixed up, and it was not fair for either Iker or me."
With Donnarumma looking certain to be first choice at Milan for many years to come, Lopez said he was not sure what his future now held, while suggesting he would be open to a move to England.
"I have two years contract left here," he said. "I always wanted to play in the Premier League but I am 34 now and time is running out.
"I am not closing any doors at all. In summer we will look at the options with my family."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan