Man City are prepared to sacrifice Jack Grealish in order to bring AC Milan forward Rafael Leao to the Etihad Stadium, according to reports.
Leao contributed 11 goals and eight assists for Milan last season in Serie A as they went on to win the Scudetto for the first time in 11 years.
The Portugal international has continued his impressive form this campaign with six goals and four assists in 14 Serie A matches, while he also impressed in a number of cameo appearances off the bench at the World Cup.
And the 23-year-old is in-demand with Chelsea, Man Utd and Man City amongst the clubs to be taking a keen interest in his services with an eye on the next couple of windows.
A report earlier this month gave hope to clubs pursuing a deal with claims Leao has ‘rejected’ a fresh contract offer from Milan with his contract running out in 18 months.
AC Milan reportedly value Leao at €80m, despite his contract running out quite soon, but that price tag is unlikely to put off any Premier League suitors.
And Italian website Calciomercato insist that Man City have ‘put Jack Grealish on the plate’ as they attempt to negotiate a swap deal for Leao with the Rossoneri.
Man City boss Pep Guardiola is ‘certainly willing to sacrifice him’ but AC Milan is ‘not at all convinced by the direct exchange proposed’ by the Premier League club, despite the Citizens spending £100m to bring Grealish to the Etihad from Aston Villa.
The ‘two reasons’ which Calciomercato mention for Milan’s scepticism is Grealish’s ‘high salary’ and ‘the difference in age and performance in the future’.
Milan would be ‘more willing to negotiate a more substantial renewal’ for Leao than fork out huge sums of money to cover Grealish’s salary.
Leao’s Milan team-mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic reckons Milan is the perfect place for the Portugal international to develop.
“Of course, Milan is the right environment for him. Just look at his growth, when he arrived, he was far from the decisive player he is today,” Ibrahimovic said.
“Here he is very important for us, elsewhere would he be as important? He would have to start from scratch, you can’t be sure he would be ready right away.
“At Milan, he has confidence, space and freedom, which is not a given at another club, it’s up to you.
“Besides, you can see that he is happy here, by now he is laughing even before scoring. He is the young man who has grown the most.
“Theo has improved so much, De Ketelaere is strong, and patience is needed. But Leao is on another level, above average. He lacks a step, he will only do it when he is fully convinced of his abilities.
“Today even he doesn’t really know how strong he is. Then he will be really scary. And the price will go up.”
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