AC Milan deny ‘damaging’ reports of breakdown in talks with Chelsea target Rafael Leao

Rafael Leao AC Milan
(Image credit: Getty)

AC Milan have blasted “unfounded and damaging” reports that Chelsea target Rafael Leao’s relationship with the club hierarchy has broken down during contract negotiations.

Leao, who was named Serie A’s MVP last year as he won the Scudetto with the Rossoneri, has been linked with a move to Chelsea (opens in new tab) or Manchester City.

The Portugal international will enter the final year of his Milan deal at the end of the season and the Italian giants are yet to convince him to agree fresh terms.

But a story published in Gazzetta dello Sport (opens in new tab)on transfer deadline day (opens in new tab) drew an angry response from the club.

The newspaper claimed that talks have broken down between Milan and Leao, with tensions rising after a proposed extension to 2027 was rejected because of the club’s refusal to lower the winger’s release clause from €150m to €70-80m.

But Milan took to social media to shoot down the suggestion.

“With regard to the article published in today’s Gazzetta dello Sport titled: ‘Leao Milan, total rupture’, AC Milan would like to clarify that the negotiation with Rafael Leao hasn’t been interrupted,” the club wrote on Twitter. (opens in new tab)

“The journalistic narrative of a frosty relationship between the parties isn’t just totally unfounded, but also damaging to the club and the player. AC Milan is continuing its dialogue with Leao and his representatives in a calm and professional manner.”

Leao’s form since joining the Serie A champions from Lille in 2019 has attracted admiring glances from the Premier League.

He provided 11 goals and 10 assists as Milan won the league last season, and has another eight goals and six assists to his name in 19 Serie A appearances this term.

The 23-year-old is valued at €85m by Transfermarkt (opens in new tab).

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Alasdair Mackenzie is a freelance journalist based in Rome, and a FourFourTwo contributor since 2015. When not pulling on the FFT shirt, he can be found at Reuters, The Times and the i. An Italophile since growing up on a diet of Football Italia on Channel 4, he now counts himself among thousands of fans sharing a passion for Ross County and Lazio.