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The Rossoneri, who recorded loss of €67.3 million during the last financial year, have begun talks with Paris Saint-Germain over the sale of their irreplaceable defender

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By Simone Gambino

Sleepless nights, headaches, a feeling of resignation and frustration that is becoming more acute: the word 'budget' is haunting AC Milan CEO Adriano Galliani, who, after 26 years, is having to deal with the worst economic crisis in the Silvio Berlusconi era.

Financial fair play is an unfamiliar hindrance for the Rossoneri. With Berlusconi's "presidential gifts" having become a thing of the past, the Diavolo, one of the traditional superpowers of the European game, are now forced to conduct their transfer dealings shrewdly, with prudence and plenty of imagination.

However, it has now become abundantly clear that the club's lack of liquidity is not only affecting who arrives at San Siro, but also who leaves. Indeed, it is solely because of the €67.3 million loss Milan recorded at the end of the financial year in 2011 that the club are currently negotiating the sale of Thiago Silva to Paris Saint-Germain.

It would be a waste of time to proffer any other explanations for the seemingly imminent exit of their most prized asset, and it is misleading to draw any comparisons with some notable departures in the past. If the Brazilian has to leave Milan, the only real reason is the compelling and now clearly-established need to fill a financial void that has made Galliani's job more thankless than ever before.

Thiago Silva will turn 28 in September and an offer of nearly €50m is extremely rare for a defender. However, there is no doubt that in more affluent times Milan would have politely rejected such a proposal without batting an eyelid.

             Time to say goodbye? | After three years at Milan, it seems Thiago Silva is bound for Paris

However, for some years now, the Rossoneri have been showing up to gala events with a rented tux, mingling with Europe's elite but without being able to afford the caviar and champagne on offer. The sale of Thiago Silva will shatter the charade. The club's house of cards is set to come tumbling down.

It is possible that Milan could remain a major force within Serie A, given the current state of the Italian game, but it seems beyond the realms of possibility that a side forced to give up the best defender in the world can return to being one of the dominant sides in European football. The Rossoneri will no longer be in a position to entertain delusions of grandeur.

The stark reality of the situation is that while the massive cheque that they are about to receive from PSG will plug the hole in their budget, it will create a chasm within their defence.

Given the choice, Galliani would happily hand over Zlatan Ibrahimovic or offload Alexandre Pato, but it seems that the only real option in terms of balancing the books is sacrificing Thiago Silva. And perhaps this is precisely why the deal looks set to go through right at the start of the summer transfer window; to afford plenty of time to at least attempt to find a replacement, as well as hopefully strengthen elsewhere without running the risk of resorting to panic buys on deadline day.

However, Thiago Silva is to defending what Lionel Messi is to attacking, the kind of absolute excellence that is simply not within the reach of any other player in the game. The centre-back is, in a word, irreplaceable. Losing him means Milan will have to resign themselves to the fact that no matter what they do during the remainder of the summer, they will have weakened their team, and given away the man they wanted to remain as their cornerstone in the most radical overhaul in the club's history.

The time to say goodbye, it seems, is now close at hand. Thiago Silva was Milan's 'Capitan Futuro', their leader-in-waiting, the new symbol of the club. However, it seems the flag is set to be lowered before the ship has even set sail.

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