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Chelsea dealt blow in pursuit of Rafael Leao

Rafael Leao ac milan 2022

Graham Potter isn’t short of wide forwards in the first-team with Mykhaylo Mudryk, Raheem Sterling, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech at his disposal, but Chelsea have shown an interest in Rafael Leao joining the ranks this summer.

The 23-year-old has impressed at AC Milan but has an uncertain future as his contract is up next year without any progress being made on an extension. Milan won’t want to lose Leao on a free transfer in 2024, so they might have to cash in while he still has value.

Chelsea were hoping to take advantage, but Daniele Longo of Calciomercato says the Blues might struggle to land his signature due to Paris Saint-Germain’s interest. The Ligue 1 champions are planning for Lionel Messi’s departure and consider Leao as his replacement.

The Portuguese international joined Milan from LOSC Lille in 2019 and has gone on to make 150 appearances in all competitions, scoring 36 goals with 31 assists. Leao has netted nine goals with 10 assists from 35 games across the board this season, so he would improve Chelsea’s fledgling attack.

The Blues are 13th in the league for goals and 9th for shots, so their problems are obvious. Potter’s men have been profligate in the final third despite having so many forwards in the first-team, so it’s easy to see why they’d think Leao could be a solution.

PSG stand a better chance of signing Leao than Chelsea, however. The Blues aren’t likely to be in any European competition next season and could undergo a squad overhaul after their poor performance in the league, so few players are going to pick them over the Parisians.

He wouldn’t come cheap either. Despite Leao’s deal being up next year, he has a €150m (£132m) release clause and Milan are still desperate to keep him. The Rossoneri paid €29.5m (£26m) to sign Leao, so they’d want their money back at the bare minimum.

The 23-year-old’s market value is €80m (£70.4m) while CIES Football Observatory estimate Leao is worth around €70m (£61.6m), but it remains to be seen how much Chelsea would be willing to pay for another forward. They’d surely have to let one or two existing players leave before top-loading their squad.

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