AC Milan technical director Paolo Maldini has revealed that the Serie A champions were unable to agree a new contract with Rafael Leao before the World Cup.
The Portuguese international has been heavily linked with Chelsea and Manchester City, but Milan were hoping to tie him down to a new deal so as to end speculation about his future. However, Maldini says the Rossoneri have yet to find an agreement with the player:
“We’ve been talking about this [contract extension] for months, if not years. We’ll meet at the right moment and make a decision. The idea was to close [the deal] before the World Cup, especially with players involved in the competition, Leao in this case. It was not possible.”
Leao’s contract at the San Siro expires in 2024 and, while he does have a €150m (£130.6m) release clause, Milan won’t be able to sell him for that figure due to the fact that he could leave on a free in just over eighteen months’ time.
Reports in Italy over the past week have suggested a more realistic asking price is €80m (£70m); an amount that will certainly not deter the Blues.
A lot does depend, though, on whether Leao puts pen to paper on an extension and, based on Maldini’s remarks, it doesn’t look like that will happen any time soon.