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Manchester City ‘preparing to rival Chelsea for Rafael Leao’

Manchester City ‘preparing to rival Chelsea for Rafael Leao’

Manchester City are reportedly preparing to battle Chelsea for the signature of AC Milan attacker Rafael Leao.

The 23-year-old has been in impressive form for the Italian champions at the start of the 2022-23 campaign, scoring three times and registering four assists in seven appearances in all competitions.

Leao enjoyed a strong 2021-22 season for his Serie A club, meanwhile, scoring 14 goals and registering 12 assists in 42 appearances in all competitions, with Chelsea strongly linked with his services over the summer.

The Blues are believed to have failed with an €80m (£69m) offer for Leao late in the transfer window, with Milan signalling that he would not be available for under his release clause of €150m (£130m).

Chelsea are thought to be planning to reignite their interest next year, but according to Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio, Man City are also in the mix for his signature.

AC Milan's Rafael Leao celebrates scoring their third goal on September 3, 2022© Reuters

Di Marzio claims that Citizens head coach Pep Guardiola is a huge admirer of the Portugal international, who could potentially leave San Siro in 2023.

Milan boss Stefano Pioli recently said that the Serie A giants were planning to offer Leao a new contract in the near future.

“The club wants to offer Leao a new deal soon. They will take care of it – he’s working at the best level. He’s not creating any problems, he’s just working hard as a top professional,” Pioli told reporters.

However, a recent report claimed that contract discussions between Leao and Milan had stalled, with the player’s £6m-a-year demands proving to be an issue for the Italian side.

The Portuguese has been with Milan since August 2019, representing the club on 122 occasions in all competitions, scoring 30 goals and registering 25 assists in the process.

AC Milan's Rafael Leao celebrates scoring their first goal on February 24, 2022© Reuters

“In order to improve, you need talent and intelligence, so Leao has both of those. We gave him the time and freedom to make mistakes so he could learn,” Pioli said when questioned on Leao after Milan’s 3-2 win over Inter Milan earlier this month.

“Naturally, every time we put him in one-on-one situations, he’s an important weapon in our armoury. Rafa has a body language that might confuse people, but I can assure you he knows what potential he has and is very eager to learn.”

Man City boosted their attack over the summer transfer window with the additions of Erling Braut Haaland from Borussia Dortmund and Julian Alvarez from River Plate.

There were also a number of exits over the summer, though, with Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus allowed to leave for Chelsea and Arsenal respectively.

Man City will be looking to make it back-to-back wins in the Champions League when they welcome Borussia Dortmund to Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night.

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