Tonali has chosen Milan but I wanted him to join Roma – Cellino

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Sandro Tonali's move to Milan is almost complete but Brescia's president Massimo Cellino wanted him to join Roma.

Italy international Tonali has been one of the hottest properties in Italian football over the past few years, having broken into the Brescia team as a 17-year-old.

A technically gifted midfielder renowned for his dribbling and passing abilities, Tonali – now 20 – has long been seen as a future star of the Azzurri.

Brescia managed to keep hold of Tonali for the 2019-20 season after they were promoted to Serie A, but their relegation left them helpless to resist offers.

Cellino previously claimed Tonali ignored offers from Barcelona and Manchester United, while Inter had also tried to prise the talent away.

But Milan, whom he supported as a child, look set to win the race for Tonali – though Cellino would have preferred to sell him to Roma.

Speaking to Il Messaggero, Cellino said: "Sandro has supported Milan since he was a child.

"The negotiation with them made me doubly happy – I also respect a club that gives value to money.

"[Milan technical director, Paolo] Maldini has Milan DNA and has all the prerequisites for becoming a great manager.

"I would have seen Sandro more at Roma. It's a beautiful team, a hot city. [Roma vice-president, Mauro] Baldissoni told me some time ago that he was their dream, but now I don't know who is in charge of their transfers.

"I had an excellent relationship with [former president, Franco] Sensi and I know [former director of football, Walter] Sabatini very well.

"I feel very attached to Roma. For this reason, when I sold Cagliari, I had the dream of buying Roma and rehabilitating it, enhancing its potential through my work and my experience. It remained just a dream."

The deal for Tonali is rumoured to be an initial loan worth €10million, plus an option to buy set at €20m, and given Brescia's relegation, Cellino felt it was impossible to keep him any longer.

"It had never happened to me before, to discover a strong player like Tonali," he added. "I would have liked to keep him, but unfortunately the dream was shattered with the relegation and the uncertainty transmitted by the pandemic.

"I had to manage Brescia without refinancing the company. I hold the position of president as a profession, while my other millionaire colleagues do it as a hobby."