Chelsea's Rafael Leao pursuit dented as AC Milan ready new contract offer

James Shearman Updated: 15 Jul 2022 20:26 BST 3 min read
Rafael Leao, Milan, 2021/22

AC Milan may have ended Chelsea's hopes of signing forward Rafael Leao by offering him a new long-term contract.

Leao helped Milan to a first Serie A title in over a decade with 14 goals in the 2021-22 season.

As a result, a host of Europe's top clubs, including Chelsea, have been eyeing up a move for the Portugal international.

Leao's existing contract ends in 2024, something that Milan are looking to address in the coming weeks - according to La Gazetta Dello Sport.

Not only do they want to keep the Serie A Most Valuable Player award recipient at the club, of course, but extending his deal would increase his value considerably.

So, should Leao decide to prolong his contract at San Siro, the chances of the 23-year-old moving to the Premier League will be scuppered.

This is a blow to the west London club, who have also lost out on Raphinha and Serge Gnabry in this transfer window.

However, new owner Todd Boehly's first signing at Stamford bridge was that of Premier League star Raheem Sterling for £50 million.

Here's how The Blues are likely to line up with the England international next season.

Chelsea XI with Sterling

Edouard Mendy will continue in goal as Chelsea attempt to offload expensive flop Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Chelsea will sign two at least two new centre-backs, with Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly and Manchester City's Nathan Ake the favourites to sign for the west London club.

Koulibaly and Ake will line up either side of Thiago Silva in Chelsea's preferred back three.

Reece James and Ben Chilwell – the latter returning from injury – will take the wing-back roles.

Chelsea, 2022/23

In the centre of midfield, the only guarantee right now is Mateo Kovacic. N’Golo Kante and Jorginho are now in their thirties and see their deals expire in 2023, so it is possible one of these could be sold. It is also possible a top central midfielder could be signed.

As for the attack, Mason Mount (despite his own contract stalemate) will join Sterling in supporting the lone striker.

That lone forward won’t be Romelu Lukaku, who has returned to Inter Milan on loan after a very disappointing first season back with the Blues.

That means Kai Havertz will continue as an unorthodox number 9 for now, although there is a chance Chelsea could sign a new starting forward.