Tottenham Hotspur could launch a surprise move for Rafael Leao in 2023…
According to Italian sports director Fabio Cordella, Spurs have emerged as a potential option for the AC Milan frontman but they are facing stiff competition from Premier League rivals Chelsea, who tried to sign him during the summer transfer window.
“There are clubs that have offered even ten million a year to Leao. Saying Chelsea is not silly, but there are other English clubs on him, including Tottenham,” he told Calciomercato’s TV Play broadcast (via Sport Witness).
“But in my opinion Leao, far from the lights of San Siro, would not be the Leao of Milan, but just a phenomenon among many. It is not obvious that he will go to Manchester City and it is not obvious that then City will win the Champions League.”
The fee touted during the Blues’ attempts was around €120m (£105m), which would shatter the Lilywhites’ club record, which was broken only a few months ago when they paid £60m to Everton for Richarlison.
If the north Londoners do follow up their interest with a firm offer or move, then this has all the hallmarks of being sporting director Fabio Paratici’s best signing yet and another successful one from the Italian top-flight.
Players such as Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur have become instant hits with the fanbase following their January switch from Juventus and Leao, given his talent and potential, could usurp that in an instant.
Indeed, just as Cordella claims, the Portugal international is something of a “phenomenon” – last season, he delivered a whopping 11 goals and ten assists across 34 appearances as the Rossoneri were crowned Serie A champions. That form has continued into the new campaign as the 23-year-old has provided 11 direct contributions in ten outings across all competitions.
FBref liken his statistical fit to some impressive names, including Paris Saint-Germain superstar Lionel Messi and Liverpool‘s Mo Salah, and it’s easy to see why considering he ranks inside the top 3% for assists (0.47), the top 5% for completed dribbles (2.87) and the top 12% for progressive carries (8.49) per 90, when compared to his positional peers in Europe.
Ultimately, he is outperforming Spurs stalwart Heung-min Son, who is having a bit of a tough campaign in front of goal, managing just three goals and one assist from eight league outings – aside from that hat-trick cameo, he has failed to score when starting a game this term.
The South Korean – who plays on the left-hand side of the attack, like Leao – has managed only 0.19 assists, 1.35 dribbles and 5.2 progressive carries per 90 over the last year, via FBref – far below the level at which the Milan sensation has performed.
Once dubbed the “Portuguese Mbappe” by Lille president Gerard Lopez and described as a “diamond” by the legendary Paolo Maldini, it’s abundantly clear that Leao would be a sensational signing that would eclipse anything Paratici – and even Daniel Levy – has ever done in the transfer market at Spurs.
As such, if the opportunity arises, then Tottenham absolutely have to make a run at signing Leao in 2023. He’d be one of their best-ever signings, full stop.