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Chelsea ‘remain in contact over Rafael Leao transfer’

Chelsea ‘remain in contact over Rafael Leao transfer’

Chelsea are reportedly still firmly interested in signing AC Milan attacker Rafael Leao next year.

The Portugal international was in impressive form for his Italian side during the 2021-22 campaign, making 42 appearances in all competitions, scoring 14 goals and contributing 12 assists.

The attacker has also made an impressive start to this season, scoring seven goals and registering nine assists in 20 appearances in all competitions, and he is already off the mark at the World Cup, scoring in his side’s first match at the tournament against Ghana towards the end of last week.

Leao will soon enter the final 18 months of his contract at San Siro, and there is currently a host of speculation surrounding his future with the Italian club.

Manchester City are said to be admirers of the Portuguese, with the club allegedly promising head coach Pep Guardiola that an approach for the forward will take place next year.

Rafael Leao celebrates scoring for AC Milan on August 27, 2022© Reuters

Manchester United have also been credited with an interest, although a recent report claimed that the Red Devils are instead prioritising signing a centre-forward.

Chelsea were heavily linked with the attacker over the summer, with the club believed to have had an offer turned down in the latter stages of the transfer window.

According to journalist Carlo Garganese, Chelsea remain ‘in touch’ with Leao’s representatives, as the London outfit prepare to reignite their interest at the start of 2023.

Milan have been working to sign the forward to a new contract but have thus far been unsuccessful, and they would not be in a strong position to keep him next summer unless he signs an extension.

Rafael Leao in action for AC Milan on October 8, 2022© Reuters

Milan director Paolo Maldini said back in September that Leao wants to remain with the Italian outfit despite the speculation surrounding his future.

“Rafa is grateful to us and I’m interested in what he says to us. He understands that his path in the coming years must be at Milan, he understands that and tells us as much,” Maldini told La Gazzetta dello Sport at the time.

“There will be a negotiation but we know that good players must be paid their value. If the team grows further, Leao will have everything to compete to the fullest. Of course, there are no non-transferable players at any team around the world.”

Milan are expected to resist any January interest in Leao, but they could be forced into a sale next summer if the Portuguese signals that he will not be signing an extension.

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