Ronaldinho has seemingly steered Chelsea in the direction of Rafael Leao ahead of the upcoming transfer window. The 22-year-old has been heavily linked with a move away from AC Milan this summer following impressive displays which have guided the Italian giants towards their first Scudetto in eleven years.
He featured 34 times for Stefano Pioli’s side in the Serie A this season, directly contributing to 21 goals. Leao, who sees his contract at the San Siro expire in June 2024, has reportedly courted the interest of Arsenal lately with Mikel Arteta keen to bolster his frontline amid the looming departures of Eddie Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette.
However, the Portugal international’s impressive displays have also reportedly attracted interest from Chelsea amid Todd Boehly’s mission to attract star-studded names to Stamford Bridge this summer. 90min claim that the west Londoners are keeping tabs on Leao’s situation, with Timo Werner, Romelu Lukaku and Hakim Ziyech facing relatively uncertain futures.
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Newcastle United and Paris Saint-Germain have also emerged as the prominent suitors in the race to land the forward’s services, according to La Repubblica. The report suggests that the two sides are prepared to quadruple Leao’s wages ahead of a potential transfer in the coming weeks.
Though, it’s believed that Milan are keen to hold onto the forward’s services and are willing to offer him new contract in a bid to ward off interest. Leao, who has been valued at around £59m by CIES Football Observatory, has warranted the flurry of interest with dazzling displays for Milan — so much so that all-time great Ronaldinho has labelled the youngster as ‘one of the best’ players around.
Speaking to DAZN, the former Rossoneri showered the Portuguese winger with the utmost praise. Ronaldinho said: “Leao is one of the best now,” Ronaldinho said. “I see him and I like him a lot, he’s one of the best today.”
The American-led consortium, who agreed to a £4.25billion deal to buy Chelsea last week, is expected to ‘push for A-list signings’ to mark a new era at Stamford Bridge, according to the MailOnline. And, while Leao has reportedly courted the Blues’ attention from when he first burst onto the scene as an 18-year-old rough diamond in the Sporting academy four years ago, it should be in Thomas Tuchel’s best interest to reignite the west London side’s intrigue.
Chelsea are in need of a dynamic and borderline elite-level wide-man who can juggle the demands of both an inside forward and traditional touchline-hugging winger. Leao should be the Blues’ leading candidate; he’s in the 95th percentile among all players in his position across Europe for dribbles completed, an excellent progressive carrier, finds himself in the box often, is good in the air, scores a healthy number of non-penalty goals and will lift fans from their seats.
More often than not, Leao features on the left wing for Milan in a 4-2-3-1 formation in which with Olivier Giroud – a target man – in the side, he’s required to operate out wide and in the inside pockets. The 22-year-old would be an excellent addition to Tuchel’s side, whether he’s utilised in a new-look 4-3-3 or the archetypal 3-4-2-1.