INTERVIEW | La Gazzetta dello Sport’s Luca Bianchin on Milan’s Rafael Leão: “January will be the key month”

Rafael Leão has been the centre of attention for Italian dailies in recent months and that rings true for La Gazzetta dello Sport as well. The Portuguese winger was very impressive last season for the Rossoneri and was vital in helping them win Serie A and get back to the pinaccle of Italian football. But contract talks have gone on for a while now, with the Diavolo yet to pen a new deal.

Having said that, the ex-Lille man is now ‘seriously considering’ Milan’s most recent proposal, which includes a salary of around €6.5m per season, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport’s Milan reporter Luca Bianchin.

Get Italian Football News asked Bianchin some more questions to explain the situation of the player, who has been linked with Chelsea over the last few months.

Why is Leão taking Milan’s proposal into serious consideration now?

“Frankly, this is a question you should ask Rafael Leão and not me. I can only guess and tell you that, during the last weeks and months, his representatives talked quite a lot with Milan. Rafael himself talked, especially with Maldini and Massara, so Milan in general. Now, I think, he has a clear idea of the situation. He perfectly knows what Milan can and can’t give him. I think it’s Rafael’s time to take a decision. He knows what he can have now from Milan, he has to decide if he wants to take it or just wait.”

You said January will be decisive. Does that mean we can expect a breakthrough soon?

“Yes, I think that January will be the key month. I think that there’ll be a meeting between Rafael’s representatives and Milan. Of course, they also talked during the last weeks, maybe by phone or Skype. I’m waiting for a live meeting, but that wouldn’t necessarily be the key moment. I think Rafael knows what Milan can give him, like I told you. This is the moment to decide if an agreement is possible or not.”

Leão and his former team Lille still owe a big sum of money to another former club of his, Sporting Lisbon. Did they also discuss that during the contract meetings?

“Of course the compensation that has to be given to Sporting Lisbon is at the centre of the stage. This is what makes these negotiations so complicated, probably the most complicated I experienced in my recent years. What I can tell you is, yes, of course they talked about this, but at the moment Milan is not going to pay €19.5 million to Sporting Lisbon for sure. Also because it is Rafael, together with Lille, who have to pay this money. So, I think the Milan offer is not related to this sum. It is a normal offer for a new contract. Rafael has to decide if he wants to sign a new contract that doesn’t involve the compensation given to Sporting.”

How is your personal feeling? Do you think Leao will renew?

“Transfers and betting are different planets. You can’t bet on a possible end of the film. What I can tell you is that, now, there’s quite a lot more chances for an agreement than one month ago, or before the World Cup. I think that nobody knows if an agreement will be made. Rafael Leão can’t be sure if an agreement will be made at the moment. So why betting now, I think it’s not serious, we just have to wait and see.”

If he extends, would Milan still sell him this summer, or is a longer stay in Milan guaranteed?

“In modern football, if you talk about Serie A, you can’t guarantee anything for a longer period. Rafael is not an exception. More importantly, Rafael is one of the players that can play in the Premier League, that can attract a Premier League offer. We perfectly know that Chelsea is interested. Anytime a big, big offer comes from a Premier League club, an Italian club has to sell the player. This is what Milan would do if a huge offer comes.”



Jurre van Wanrooij | GIFN

More European Football News