Rafael Leao

Graham Potter and Chelsea have reportedly received a boost in their pursuit of Rafael Leao with the Portuguese said to be demanding astronomical wages to remain with AC Milan.

Leao, 23, has emerged as one of Europe’s foremost forward players in the last 12 months with AC Milan keen to hold onto the player whose deal runs until 2024.

According to Sky Italia, the Italian giants are facing a battle to hold onto Leao amid the player’s high wage demands and increased interest from across Europe.

The report states that his change in agent has complicated matters relating to a potential breakthrough in negotiations with the club.

It is said that the issues and conversations had been addressed with his previous representative but the change appears to have brought with it a change of tack from the player’s side.

It is believed that Leao is demanding a yearly wage of about £8.7m a year. This would be the highest wage package ever handed out by the club, it is said.

There is also reported to be issues surrounding a dispute with his former club, Sporting Lisbon, who are said to be owed £16.5m from 2018.

Leao joined Lille in Ligue 1 from Sporting in 2018 before moving to Italy a year later with AC Milan.

Considered an exciting prospect but nothing extraordinary by many, Leao has developed at an astonishing rate at the San Siro fast becoming the club’s most important player – and, crucially perhaps, their most valuable asset.

Last season he scored 11 times in the league in 34 appearances as AC Milan marched to their first Scudetto in 11 years.

He has continued his remarkable form into this season, scoring six times and recording nine assists across 18 appearances in all competitions.

Potter himself praised the player this season when Chelsea met AC Milan in the group stages of the Champions League.

You can see Leao’s quality and skills, it’s obvious. But he is part of a strong team. We have to respect that [he is under contract],’ he said.

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