Wolverhampton Wanderers were heavily linked with signing AC Milan winger Rafael Leao in 2021 and his rapid progression since will have the Old Gold seriously regretting not pushing harder to bring him to Molineux.
It was suggested in the summer of 2021 by Italian outlet Gazzetta dello Sport (as reported by Sport Witness) that AC Milan could be willing to sell the former Lille man and were in discussions with the Old Gold over a potential deal.
Leao is represented by Portuguese super agent Jorge Mendes, which should have handed the Midlands club a big advantage in any potential deal, but in the end, he would remain at the San Siro.
He has exploded for both club and country since then, with Manchester City and Chelsea now both reportedly keen on the 23-year-old, with the Rossoneri likely to demand that interested clubs pay his €150m (£132m) release clause should they want to sign him in 2023.
So far this season, the Portugal international has contributed an impressive six goals and four assists in 14 appearances in Serie A, averaging a strong 7.12 rating from WhoScored for his performances.
Considering Ruben Neves is the club’s current top scorer and top performer in the Premier League so far this campaign, with just four goals and a 6.99 average rating from WhoScored, it seems clear the quality that Leao would have added had he arrived at Molineux last year.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is certainly a big fan of Leao’s ability and potential, as he spoke earlier this year about wanting to keep the 23-year-old in Italy after his sensational recent form.
“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.”
Had Wolves managed to complete a deal for the exciting youngster in 2021, they perhaps wouldn’t have felt the need to sign Goncalo Guedes from Valencia earlier this year, as the Portuguese winger joined in a deal worth £27.5m.
The Old Gold would perhaps have been avoiding a disaster in that scenario, as the former PSG man has certainly done little to justify his price thus far, with just one goal and one assist in 13 Premier League appearances.
Considering their differing form this season, as well as the fact that Leao hit two goals at the World Cup while Guedes wasn’t taken at all, suggests that Wolves made a big mistake in not signing the AC Milan star when he was far more affordable in 2021.