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Chelsea ‘in talks over late Rafael Leao bid’

Chelsea ‘in talks over late Rafael Leao bid’

Chelsea are reportedly in talks over a late move for AC Milan attacker Rafael Leao.

The 23-year-old left Lille in 2019 to don the red and black of Stefano Pioli‘s team and was a key component of their Scudetto-winning side in 2021-22.

Leao contributed 11 goals and 10 assists in 34 Serie A appearances last term to clinch a winners’ medal and already has a goal and assist to boast from four games this season.

The Portugal international has now totalled 28 goals and 22 assists in 119 outings for the Rossoneri since his £26.5m arrival three years ago, but his contract is due to expire in 2024.

Leao’s exploits have unsurprisingly led to interest from clubs in the Premier League, with Manchester United thought to have been interested before striking an £85.4m deal for Antony.

AC Milan's Rafael Leao celebrates scoring against Bologna on October 23, 2021© Reuters

Now, The Times reports that Chelsea are still holding out hope of a deal for Leao before Thursday’s transfer deadline, in spite of claims that it could take £100m to prise him away from Milan.

Thomas Tuchel has already reinforced his attack with the signing of Raheem Sterling from Manchester City, while Timo Werner, Romelu Lukaku and Callum Hudson-Odoi have completed summer exits – the latter two on loan.

Sterling already has three Premier League goals to his name in a Chelsea shirt, but his opener in Tuesday’s clash with Southampton was in vain as the Blues suffered a 2-1 defeat at St Mary’s.

Chelsea’s seven-point haul from their opening five games leaves them eighth in the table at this early stage of the season, and the club are expected to be active in the market right up until the deadline.

Having allowed Lukaku to rejoin Inter Milan on loan, Chelsea have been persistently linked with a move for Barcelona attacker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who only left Arsenal for Camp Nou in January.

Barcelona's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring their first goal on February 27, 2022© Reuters

While talks with the 33-year-old’s camp are thought to be ongoing, a move has been plunged into fresh doubt after he was threatened and beaten in a burglary at his home on Sunday evening.

The Gabon international revealed that he had suffered a jaw injury in a social media post on Wednesday afternoon and also admitted that he no longer “feels safe” in his Catalonia home.

“Hey guys, thanks a lot for all the messages. On Sunday night, some violent cowards broke into our home and threatened my family and my children, just to steal some stuff,” Aubameyang wrote.

“They injured my jaw but I will recover in no time. The feeling that we are no longer safe in our own home is hard to understand and describe, but as a family we will overcome this and stand stronger than ever.”

A shock move for Paris Saint-Germain attacker Neymar was also allegedly considered by Chelsea, but the Ligue 1 champions are not expected to sanction the Brazilian’s exit before the deadline.

Chelsea – who could also try to sign a new midfielder in the coming hours – will aim to return to winning ways in the Premier League when they host West Ham United on Saturday, which could see Wesley Fofana make his debut after his initial £69.5m move from Leicester City.

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