Chelsea dealt Rafael Leao blow as AC Milan chiefs 'meet with father' at Ballon d'Or

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Chelsea’s pursuit of Rafael Leao has suffered a blow after AC Milan chiefs intimated they would meet with the player’s father at the Ballon d’Or ceremony in order to discuss a new contract. The Portugal star is believed to be one of the Blues’ top transfer targets as Graham Potter looks to improve his attacking options. 

Chelsea have struggled in front of goal at times this season and it is an issue that has plagued the team over the past couple of years. Leao was initially seen as a player who could potentially help ease these problems by Thomas Tuchel, with the Blues rumoured to hold an interest in the 23-year-old during the summer transfer window. That has continued to this day despite the change of managers

However, Milan are determined to keep hold of their prized asset and are looking to offer him a new contract in order to convince him to prolong his stay at the club. His current deal expires in 2024, putting immense time pressure upon his current side’s efforts and giving Chelsea a way in should this not come to fruition. 

The west Londoners’ pursuit appears to have been dealt a blow at the Ballon d’Or ceremony on Monday night, with Milan executives suggesting they would speak to his father about a new deal. 

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“We’re confident to reach an agreement with Leão and extend his contract,” Milan director Daniele Massaro told Sky. “We’ll try to find a solution to proceed with Rafa for a long time. His father’s here tonight, we’ll speak during the dinner”.

Leao enjoyed some success at the ceremony in Paris, tying with Liverpool star Fabinho in 14th place in the best men’s player award. His importance to Milan has been highlighted over the course of the current campaign with the forward scoring four times in 13 appearances while also contributing a further eight assists.

Despite this, he is yet to convince former Chelsea winger Joe Cole, with the Englishman suggesting there are question marks over his attitude after his team lost 3-0 at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League earlier in the season. 

“For all of his talent and everything tonight, there will be scouts here, and there will be question marks on his attitude,” Cole told BT Sport. “He went like most of his teammates tonight. He went a bit limp against (Reece) James. He didn’t get his own way. First 20 minutes, he was loving life, chest out, he was running at players.

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“James put it on him a bit, and we watched his body language. If you’re going to spend £100million or whatever his price tag will be, you’ve got to tick all of the boxes. There’s still some time left, and he is exciting.”

Only time will tell if Chelsea will solidify their interest in the player with a big money offer in January or next summer. However, it is clear his current team are prepared to fight for their star and will be hopeful that he will sign a new deal to stop the speculation surrounding his career. 

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