Following the retirement of defensive legend and club idol Paolo Maldini, AC Milan have reacted quickly by extending the contract of Italian international centre-back Daniele Bonera until 2013.
The 28-year-old former Parma and Brescia defender, who arrived at the San Siro in 2006, admits the new deal was a welcome boost after an injury-plagued campaign. "I'm very happy because this renewal has come at a delicate and difficult time for me," he told the club's TV channel. "I have not played at all for around five months so the club's desire to extend my contract is a great show of faith."
The Rossoneri are in the midst of a tumultuous close-season period, with the retirement of Maldini followed by the departure of coach Carlo Ancelotti after eight seasons in charge. Meanwhile the club's Brazilian star Kaka, a scorer in the final day 2-0 win over Fiorentina that guaranteed an automatic UEFA Champions League berth for 2009/10, is reportedly close to joining Real Madrid.
"These are odd times for Milan fans and I understand that," said Bonera. "But I'm still able to calm all the fans by saying that during my last few meetings with general manager Adriano Galliani I could see the club's not lost its huge desire for success."
"We talked about the future of this squad and I still consider Kaka to be part of the team," he continued. "He's an icon and in certain ways is a perfect team-mate."
"He's a great person and is never over the top. At the moment the club are making decisions (about Kaka's transfer) which I've no say in, so I can't possibly judge," concluded Bonera.