Manchester City are reportedly eyeing a move for AC Milan sensation Rafael Leao, according to the latest reports coming out of Italy.
As per Calciomercato, the player’s agent Jorge Mendes has warned the Serie A outfit that an offer could arrive from England for the 22-year-old as he attempts to negotiate a new deal for his client.
The report claims that it is City who are the hitherto unnamed Premier League club who are interested in the Portuguese starlet, with an offer of €70m (£58m) potentially set to tempt Stefano Pioli’s side into a sale, despite the club not putting the player on the market.
Previous reports had suggested that Pep Guardiola and co are interested in the five-cap international, with the City coach believed to be a keen admirer of the player stretching back to the youngster’s spell at Sporting Lisbon.
This news comes amid intense speculation surrounding the future of current City star Gabriel Jesus, with the Brazilian having been heavily linked with a reunion with Arsenal boss and Guardiola’s former assistant Mikel Arteta at the Emirates Stadium this summer.
Although there is a belief that the 25-year-old may still have a future at the club, according to journalist Dean Jones, his potential departure could well enhance the need for a new arrival, with young Leao seemingly the man to fill the void.
Like Jesus, the £45m-rated speedster is not an out-and-out centre forward and is comfortable playing off the left flank, with his arrival not necessarily certain to be impacted by any potential move for Borussia Dortmund marksman Erling Haaland as a result.
Like the Norwegian, the Milan star is held in high regard across European football, having been dubbed the “Portuguese Mbappe” by Lille president Gerard Lopez during his time with the Ligue 1 side.
The praise and the comparisons don’t end there, either, with his current boss likening him to another French superstar in Thierry Henry, such has been the impact he has made of late at the San Siro.
While he previously had a tendency to frustrate, the £33k-per-week ace has been far more consistent so far this term, chipping in with nine goals and four assists in the Italian top flight for the title-chasing Rossoneri.
His game is not solely reliant on goalscoring, either, as he ranks in the top 15% for aerial duels won per 90 among players in his position across Europe’s big five leagues, while he is also in the top 5% for dribbles completed.
A dynamic forward, he seemingly fits the mould of City’s current 94-goal star Jesus, who has received high praise for his all-action style from Guardiola, with the former Barcelona boss stating that the Brazilian “fights for every single ball”.
Leao may not quite have that level of work rate engrained into his game just yet, although he could well be moulded in an all-around weapon were he to make the switch to the Etihad Stadium this summer, and he could be the perfect successor to Jesus if the latter moves on in the coming months.