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Newcastle: Eddie Howe interested in Rafael Leao

Newcastle United are interested in a deal to bring Rafael Leao to the Premier League.

What’s the talk?

Transfer Focus

That’s according to a report by Italian publication La Repubblica (via Sempre Milan), who claim that, despite AC Milan having offered the winger a new deal worth €7m (£6.2m) net per season – roughly £120k-per-week – difficulties remain for the Serie A side due to a €19.5m (£17m) fine owed to Sporting Lisbon regarding the forward’s termination of his contract in 2018.

The report goes on to state that, should the Rossoneri fail to tie the Portugal international down to a new contract at the San Siro, Stefano Pioli’s side could look to cash in on the trickster at the end of the current campaign – with his current deal with the reigning Italian champions set to expire in the summer of 2024.

Were this to be the case, La Repubblica suggest that Newcastle would very much be a club in the race for the €150m (£133m) valued attacker this summer, while Real Madrid and Chelsea are also believed to be keeping a close eye on the situation of Leao ahead of making their own potential move for the winger at the end of the season.

Howe’s own Mbappe

Considering just how impressive Leao has been for AC Milan in recent seasons, it is not difficult to understand why Eddie Howe would be interested in a deal to bring the forward to St. James’ Park ahead of the 2023/24 campaign.

Indeed, over his 34 Serie A appearances last time out, the £62m-rated talent played a key role in the Rossoneri’s title-winning campaign, scoring 11 goals, registering 10 assists and creating six big chances for his teammates, as well as taking an average of 2.9 shots – 1.1 of which were on target – making 1.7 key passes and completing 2.9 dribbles per game – the most in the league.

These returns saw the player who former Ivory Coast sporting director Fabio Cordella dubbed a “phenomenon” average a breathtaking Sofascore match rating of 7.19, not only ranking him as Pioli’s third-best player in the league but also as the 22nd-best player in the Italian top flight as a whole – while the winger also sealed the Serie A Most Valuable Player for 2021/22.

The £30k-per-week flanker – who can also operate as a number nine – has continued this fine form over his 21 appearances so far this season, having already bagged eight goals – seven in the league and one in the Champions League – and provided a further nine assists – five in Serie A and four in Europe – in all competitions.

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As such, considering just how much of a threat Leao evidently poses in the final third, it is easy to see why the 23-year-old has been dubbed “the Portuguese Mbappe” – the Paris Saint-Germain star who has already scored a sensational 191 goals and registered a remarkable 93 assists over 239 appearances for Les Parisiens.

Indeed, should Newcastle manage to beat off the competition for the “unreal” in the words of journalist Ryan Harber – Leao’s signature this summer, Howe could very well have landed his own Kylian Mbappe-esque talent on the left wing – a prospect that sure to be incredibly tantalising for all involved with the Magpies.