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Jose Mauri: Why Man City, AC Milan are part of one of season's best football stories

The agents are vultures. The clubs are greedy. And the millionaire players are detached and full of their own self-importance.

Yeah, it's pretty easy to be cynical about today's football. But then you come across a story like Parma midfielder Jose Mauri and realise it's still a beautiful game.

The 19 year-old Argentine has been the one positive for Parma in a disastrous campaign. Moved inside from a wing-back to midfield by coach Roberto Donadoni, Mauri has been a revelation and attracted enquiries from Europe's biggest clubs.

Just your normal run-of-the-mill transfer story, right?

Well, with Parma now in administration, Mauri, who like the rest of the senior squad hasn't seen any wages for over a year, could walk out on the club for nothing. Indeed, any suitor, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and PSG have all been mentioned, could insist Parma hand him over for pennies.

But this hasn't happened.

"I've received many calls in recent weeks," says Dino Zampacorta, Mauri's agent. "Several top Italian and foreign clubs are on his trail and have shown interest him.

"But the thing I'd like to emphasize is that these various clubs have expressed the intention to pay the transfer fee of the player, without profiting from the complicated situation faced by Parma.

"There is no profiteering from the teams involved."

And Mauri has gone even further, refusing to have his name included on the list of receivers when Parma entered administration.

"I did not sign because my salary would not make a difference. It's more important that the staff, like the physios, do not lose their money. In the end, then, I think they deserve this money."

Mauri and Parma will split this summer. The youngster is destined to move to a bigger stage in the coming months. Meanwhile, the Ducali, if they can find a buyer, will kickoff next season in Serie B - and with a decent fee generated from Mauri's sale.

"His value?" continued Zampacorta. "Last season, when he made his debut, we thought €8-10 million."

Actually, Atletico came knocking in the summer with a bid of €10 million - which was rejected by then Parma president Tommaso Ghirardi.

"If Parma was not experiencing the present crisis, he may have a high evaluation similar to (Palermo striker Paulo) Dybala," adds Zampacorta. "We are talking about a guy who is a starter in Serie A and only 19 years old."

Mauri's mentor admits it's important at this stage in his career they put development ahead of money.

"The important thing is to find a team that believes in Jose Mauri and gives him confidence. If he ends up in a top club like Chelsea, just as an example, to become the fourteenth midfielder in the squad, then we're not interested because it would not be productive for his professional growth."

Chelsea haven't shown interest, but Premier League rivals Manchester United and Manchester City have. Mauri thumped home the winner against Juventus last month in front of scouts from both Manchester giants.

Mauri was just happy to give Parma's fans and staff some respite after "seven months of hell".

"I have 1000 sms - how do I respond to everyone? It's the happiest day of my life," he told reporters.

"I want to thank God and my grandmother, who looks down on me from up there. I want to share this joy with all the fans.

"After the goal I said incredulously, 'but what did I do?' I did not understand anything. I believe that this goal will go down in history because it isn't easy to score against Juventus.

"We had seven months of hell but now we have peace of mind. Football is played with the head not the legs."

Pep Guardiola, Louis van Gaal, Diego Simeone... Mauri is rated by the game's very best coaches. But it's understood he's happy to continue his career in Italy and has chosen fallen giants AC Milan for his next move.

Adriano Galliani, the Milan GM, has been in touch and with just over a year remaining on Mauri's deal, is happy to cough up €4-5 million to take the Argentine to the San Siro this summer.

"It's a good move for him," says former Parma midfielder Marco Osio, "because the Milan team is likely to be rebuilt next season and it's an opportunity to establish himself there.

"He's a player who can be used in all midfield roles, he has great skill and vision of the game. He can even be the playmaker, despite not having the height that helps him."

Mauri, standing at 5ft 7in, admits he models his game on Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano.

"I've always regarded myself as a midfielder. My idol? Mascherano. He's the best."

Osio isn't sure about such a comparison, instead nominating another modern day great Mauri could be likened to.

"Comparisons are difficult to make, but I can see his career being played as a midfielder just in front of the defence, like (Andrea) Pirlo."

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