Milan's stance on Chelsea-linked Rafael Leao revealed as Pioli admits he's yet to reach 'full potential'

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Rafael Leao AC Milan 2022-23
AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli remains optimistic when it comes to Rafael Leao’s future, with there still “full potential” for him to unlock in Italy.
  • Portuguese forward has starred in Serie A
  • Linked with teams in England & Spain
  • Contract due to expire in 2024

WHAT HAPPENED? The highly-rated Portugal international forward has been attracting admiring glances from outside of San Siro, with a 14-goal haul during a Serie A title-winning season in 2021-22 bringing him to the attention of clubs across Europe. There has been talk of interest being shown from Chelsea and Real Madrid in Leao, but Milan have stated on a regular basis that they want to retain the talented 23-year-old and get him tied down on a new contract.

WHAT THEY SAID: Pioli has told Sky Sport Italia when discussing Leao’s future: “Rafa is happy, serene, I see him as very positive and as long as I see my players like this, I can only be satisfied. It is undoubtedly a positive thing for our future. I think we've done a lot together with all the players, but I don't think any of us have really reached our full potential yet. Rafa has enjoyed an incredible growth journey, always with a growing mind, but he still has many things on which he can work with even more quality and intensity. Clearly doing it with us, where he knows all the situations, can make things easier.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Leao’s current deal with Milan is due to expire in 2024, meaning that a sale may have to be considered next summer if no extension is agreed, while those terms are also said to include a €150 million (£131m/$159m) release clause.

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Rafael Leao Milan 2022

Rafael Leao Portugal 2022

Stefano Pioli Milan

WHAT NEXT? Leao has registered a further seven goals and six assists for the Rossoneri in the current campaign and formed part of Portugal’s squad at the 2022 World Cup that suffered a shock quarter-final defeat to Morocco.