Bad news for Chelsea as Rafa Leao close to new Milan contract

Stuart Telford
Stuart Telford
  • Updated: 3 Jan 2023 22:50 GMT
  • 5 min read
Rafael Leao, Chelsea, 2022/23

Chelsea have identified AC Milan and Portugal star Rafa Leao as a player to rejuvenate their attack, but they will have a hard time recruiting him if reports from Italy are to be believed.

Chelsea spent more than €280 million last summer in what was Todd Boehly's first transfer window as owner, but results have so far been less than satisfactory, with Graham Potter's men ninth in the Premier League following Sunday's 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest.

The Blues have reportedly struck a deal with RB Leipzig for Christopher Nkunku after the player underwent a medical in Frankfurt last summer, but he was subsequently ruled out of the World Cup with a torn cruciate ligament, and another final third operator is desired.

READ: Kante out, Moukoko in: What Chelsea need in January transfer window

Leao has attracted Chelsea's attention in recent seasons. The 23-year-old Portuguese had 11 goals and 10 assists as Milan won the Scudetto last season, and already has six and five in each column from just 14 Serie A games this term.

His current contract at San Siro runs until June 2024, and the Rossoneri plan to extend it soon.

Economics and sport

"At the moment the AC Milan offer is €7 million per season," reports Sky Italia's Gianluca Di Marzio. "In recent days there have been continuous contacts between the management and the father and the player's lawyer, whose will would be to stay.

READ: Chelsea see €70m Leao bid rejected by Milan

"An attempt will therefore be made to fit this desire with the economic aspect, without forgetting the Sporting clause."

A new deal worth €7m per season would make Leao Milan's best-paid player ahead of Theo Hernandez and Divock Origi, who earn €5.1m. Serigno Dest is on €6m, but is owned by Barcelona. Chelsea could offer perhaps double that, but the new Milan rate is still more than what Thiago Silva or Jorginho earn at Stamford Bridge.

Leao also seems to be settled in Milan, posting a post-World Cup picture of himself in Milan with the simple caption "back home".