Chelsea target Rafael Leao ‘not distracted’ by transfer rumours, insists AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli

·2-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli insists that Rafael Leao is “not distracted” by transfer rumours regarding a potential late switch to Chelsea.

Rumours linking the Portuguese forward with Stamford Bridge first emerged earlier this summer, though the interest appeared to cool as he entered into talks over a contract extension at the San Siro.

However, such a dormant pursuit seemed to be renewed earlier this week, with reports claiming that Chelsea had been encouraged to look into a deal again and hold a second round of talks.

Speculation from Italian outlet Gazetta dello Sport has since suggested that the Blues are ready to smash their transfer record to sign Leao, under contract in Milan until 2024 with a €150million release clause, in a huge transfer worth around £101m.

However, the Rossoneri do not want to part with one of their key assets, with Sporting CP said to be owed around £14m following his contract termination in 2018 and a 15 per cent sell-on clause with Lille, from where Milan signed Leao for €23m back in the summer of 2019.

The 23-year-old has racked up 27 goals and 21 assists in 117 appearances across all competitions since then, including 13 last term as Milan won their first Serie A title for a decade.

He has started both of their opening top-flight matches this term, against Udinese and Atalanta, with Pioli claiming that his head is not being turned by high-profile transfer interest.

“I don’t see any problem with Rafael Leao,” the Milan coach said, per Fabrizio Romano. “He’s not distracted by transfer rumours, he’s focused on working at the best level.”

Chelsea are set for a busy end to a hectic and oft-frustrating summer window, with the club still aiming to complete deals for Everton winger Anthony Gordon, Leicester defender Wesley Fofana and Barcelona striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang before next Thursday’s (September 1) 11pm BST deadline.

The Blues are also working on a move for Dinamo Moscow midfielder Arsen Zakharyan as part of their commitment to a youth recruitment drive, though that deal is complex.