Chelsea have been warned Manchester City may sign one of their top transfer targets out of spite.
New Blues owner Todd Boehly spend over £250m on transfers in his first window at the helm, but had a verbal bid of around £60m for Rafael Leao turned down by AC Milan.
The Portugal international has a £130m release clause and Milan chief Paolo Maldini says the club are keen to tie him down to a new deal.
“Leao’s renewal? It is a question that we have already faced many months ago,” Maldini said. “Rafa knows that, to become even stronger, the best solution is to stay with us. We are a young and growing team. But we intend to do great things and grow with him.
“Chelsea made an informal offer for Leao in the summer but Milan decided to reject it. With Leao, [Ismael] Bennacer and [Pierre] Kalulu we started talking about their contract renewal for some time. Each renewal can be complicated or easy, it depends on the will of the players. That of the club is there.”
If Leao does decide to leave, Chelsea will reportedly face competition from Manchester City as he is “very much liked by Pep Guardiola”, according to Calciomercato.
Given the attacking talent Guardiola already has available to him at the Etihad, former Tottenham goalkeeper Paul Robinson claims City’s desire to sign Leao may be based on preventing a rival from securing his services.
You would not say that they need another forward,” Robinson told Football Insider. “They are probably looking at signing him just so others do not have him.
“City are amassing a squad with two top-quality players in every position. They do not need any additions when you look at their squad. But we know that Pep Guardiola likes to rotate. To have a player like Leao at your disposal would be great. If the board are going to let you sign him, why wouldn’t you?
“City are a team competing on all fronts so I’m sure he would be interested even if he is not guaranteed to start. You are guaranteed to win silverware at City. What player would not want that?”
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