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Manchester City: Rafael Leao can be Guardiola’s own Kylian Mbappe

Manchester City are reportedly lining up an audacious swap deal for AC Milan superstar Rafael Leao and the Portugal international could be Pep Guardiola‘s own version of Kylian Mbappe at the Etihad.

Reports from Italy have claimed that the Citizens are keen to offer Jack Grealish as a makeweight in any potential transfer for the former Lille man, who could be set to leave the San Siro before his contract expires in 2024.

Despite Grealish only joining the club in 2021 in a deal worth £100m, it seems as if the Citizens are less than impressed with his paltry return of seven goals and six assists in 57 appearances for the club, and want to replace him with a younger, more in-form winger.

Leao has been a key part of AC Milan’s return to the top in Italy, as he contributed an impressive 11 goals and eight assists in just 34 appearances last season, as the Rossoneri claimed the Scudetto.

German journalist Florian Plettenberg has previously reported on City’s interest in the 23-year-old winger but suggested that Milan wouldn’t budge from their asking price for Leao, which is reflected in his €150m (£132m) release clause.

Therefore, with City no doubt reticent to pay that fee given the Portuguese attacker’s contract situation in Italy, it is easy to see why they might want to offload Grealish as part of any potential deal.

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Should Leao arrive at the Etihad in 2023 he could prove to be Guardiola’s equivalent of Paris Saint-Germain and France sensation, Kylian Mbappe, having been compared with the electric forward in the past.

Lille president Gerard Lopez dubbed him the “Portuguese Mbappe,” while his former coach at Sporting, Tiago Fernandes, likened him to Brazilian legend, Ronaldo.

He said:

“Rafael is a No 9, he’s almost always played as one. I’d say that he reminds me of ‘Fenomeno’ [The Phenomenon] Ronaldo for his pace, technique and the quality of his finishing.”

WhoScored suggests that both Leao and Mbappe excel at dribbling, finishing and long shots, while they both like to cut inside from the left, so it is easy to see why the Portuguese star has been likened to the PSG forward.

Guardiola has managed a wide range of world-class talents in his spells at Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Barcelona but the prospect of signing such a promising young talent, who has drawn comparisons to two world-class players, will surely still excite the Catalan coach.

Therefore, director of football Txiki Begiristain should definitely be looking at bringing Leao to the Etihad Stadium in 2023, as there seems little to suggest that he wouldn’t be a huge success under Guardiola at the Etihad.