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Manchester City: Leao could be Pep’s own Rashford

Manchester City have been linked with AC Milan winger Rafael Leao recently and the Portuguese forward could be Pep Guardiola‘s own version of Manchester United star Marcus Rashford at the Etihad.

According to German journalist Florian Plettenberg last month, the former Lille man doesn’t want to extend his contract at the San Siro beyond 2024, which has alerted City, Chelsea and Real Madrid to his availability ahead of a potential move in 2023.

Leao’s current deal includes an eye-watering €150m (£132m) release clause but City would surely be looking to bring him in on a cut-price deal if the Portugal international can’t agree on new terms with the current Serie A holders.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was full of praise for his young teammate in 2022 and urged him to snub a move to the Premier League in favour of staying with Milan.

He said: “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.”

In 17 league appearances for the Rossoneri this season, the 23-year-old forward has contributed a remarkable eight goals and five assists, with WhoScored awarding him a superb 7.18 rating for his performances.

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Only Erling Haaland has contributed to more goals in City’s side so far this campaign, while only he, Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri have higher average ratings, so it is clear the quality that Leao could add to Guardiola’s squad should he join the Citizens.

In fact, he could even emulate one of City’s biggest nemeses in Rashford, with the England international scoring the winner once again in the derby defeat at Old Trafford last weekend.

As per FBref, the two exciting wingers have registered extremely similar numbers so far this campaign with regard to expected goals per 90 (both 0.42), progressive passes received (both 87) and non-penalty goals (both eight), as a marker of their ability to be in the right place at the right time.

WhoScored also suggests that both Rashford and Leao like to cut inside and dribble, as they are both right-footed players who predominantly play on the left, so they are clearly similar types of goalscoring wingers.

Considering the former’s sensational form for City’s rivals since the World Cup, with eight goals and two assists in his last seven appearances, City would surely be foolish to turn down a player such as Leao this year.