AC Milan technical director Paolo Maldini has confirmed that the Italian giants knocked back a verbal offer for Rafael Leao over the summer as he looks to tie the Portuguese starlet down to a new contract in the coming months.
The Blues were on the hunt for attacking reinforcements, and having missed out on Raphinha (who joined Barcelona) they turned their attentions elsewhere, with Leao one of a number of options considered by then-manager Thomas Tuchel.
While there is no doubting the quality of Leao, who was voted Serie A’s MVP last campaign, the price tag was deemed too high, with the 23 year old revealed to have a release clause set at £127m in his current contract, which runs until 2024.
And the former Milan defender revealed that they have no plans of letting Leao leave, instead looking to offer him a new deal in the coming months, that would keep him in Italy beyond 2024, confirming in the process that Chelsea had shown interest.
“Chelsea haven’t send any official bid for Leão — but they made a verbal proposal… and we rejected, of course”, Maldini explained.
“He knows that staying here is the best way to improve. We want to do great things with Rafa Leão in our project”.
‘He still has to learn many things but we intend to do great things and grow with him.
‘We have already started talking to him. But not now, for a long time. Every renewal can be simple or complicated, the will of the player makes the difference because that of the club is there,
Should they fail to agree a new deal with the winger, he could well be on the move cheaply next summer, when he will have 12 months left on his contract in Milan. Chelsea will undoubtedly be waiting.