Jeff Hendrick could be playing with Zlatan Ibrahimovic next season
Looking at the current AC Milan squad, the Irish midfielder would back himself to be a regular starter.
After Euro 2016, in which he was one of Ireland's to players, Jeff Hendrick found himself linked with a move to Galatasary. The Turkish side had been impressed by Hendrick's performances against the likes of Sweden, Italy and France and made enquiries as to his availability.
Two factors ultimately hindered that move. Galatasary were banned from European football in 2016/17 and Hendrick was in demand by Premier League and Championship clubs with ambitions to reach the top flight.
Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough and Hull City all looked hard at the Dubliner but, ultimately, he ended up leaving Derby County for Burnley. Hendrick has played 139 times for Sean Dyche's side over the past four years and is one of Ireland's most consistent Premier League performers.
A worthy recipient of @premierleague's Goal of the Day clip, it's Jeff Hendrick 🔥🔥pic.twitter.com/C43MwPXb4y
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) April 14, 2020
Capped 54 times for Ireland, Hendrick is out of contract, at Turf Moor, at the end of June. With the league set to return on June 17, Hendrick and others may sort out contract extensions to see out the current campaign but he will be looking for something more long-term than that.
Clubs across Europe have been alerted to the fact that the 28-year-old is coming to the end of his deal and Sky Sports are reporting interest in Hendrick from seven-time European Cup champions AC Milan.
As we have seen with Inter Milan and Roma going for the likes of Ashley Young, Chris Smalling and Alexis Sanchez, Italian sides are keen to get in proven Premier League stars. Serie A has lost much of the lustre it possessed from the late 1980s to the mid 2000s with Spain and England the league destinations for big wages and higher profile. Even the Bundesliga giants, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, and PSG in France do better to attract top talent.
That being said, Milan are still a huge club with a glittering trophy record and an avid fan-base. They have 18 Serie A titles to their name but were 10th in the league when the Covid-19 pandemic forced a break in the 2019/20 season.
The highest profile player at Milan is Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who returned to Italy earlier this year after a successful stint in the USA with LA Galaxy. Ibrahimovic signed a six-month deal with Milan in late December 2019 but there was an option for an extra year in his deal.
The club also has goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma on their books, as well as Lucas Biglia, Hakan Calhanoglu and captain Alessio Romagnoli. Danish midfielder Simon Kjaer and former Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic are both on loan to the Italians at present.
Burnley have held initial talks with Hendrick about retaining his services. At 28, the midfielder will be aware that this may be his last chance at a big contract so the Italian interest will be a boon to both the player and his representatives.
Robbie Keane was the last Irish player to make an appearance in Serie A, in the 2000/01 season, while Liam Brady and Paddy Sloan also played in Italy's top flight.