Rafael Leau, 23, is one of the brightest talents in European football right now. The Portuguese winger has been terrorizing Serie A defenders with dribbling for the second consecutive season, so rumors of interest from top clubs are not surprising.
Last season, Leau knocked out 14+12, this season he already scored nine goals and 10 assists.
Leau’s contract with Milan expires in the summer of 2024, and Rafael is in no hurry to re-sign him.
Leau focused on Milan but jokes Serie A is too easy for him
Rafael himself emphasizes that he is devoted to Milan, but admits that in the future he will try himself somewhere else.
“Do I want to play in another championship? Yes, in the future. But right now I’m focused on Milan, I’m thinking about Milan and I have a contract with Milan, a top club with a lot of history. I really like the city. Winning the championship with Milan was one of the best moments of my life and career. At home I watch a lot of football: the Premier League, La Liga, Ligue 1, the Portuguese League. I like the way Arsenal play, they are having a great season, ”Rafa reasoned in December 2022.
However, in early March, Leau jokingly said that the Italian championship had become too easy for him: “Serie A now seems very easy. Seriously, the first year in Italy was difficult. But when you have the ability, when you’re faster, you can create and make a difference. The second year is much better, I have grown a lot. I have to show the world what I can do on and off the pitch.”
Leau closely follows the news about the extension of the contract – and sometimes even refutes them.
“He’s an unbridled talent.” Maldini doesn’t want to let Leau go
Milan technical director and legend Paolo Maldini is a huge fan of the Portuguese talent. Since last year, he has constantly emphasized the importance of Rafael to the club.
• “It’s not for sale. It is still a rough diamond that gets better year after year. Leau has always been a potential great champion, but he needs to continue a growth process that he has only partly gone through. He is extremely intelligent but needs help along the way and I have talked to him a lot. Things can change, but at the moment the player is growing with the club,” Maldini told La Gazzetta dello Sport in June.
• “I refused to sell Leau – I told other clubs not to even waste time,” Paolo said in September. A month later, Maldini clarified that one of the clubs was Chelsea.
• “He is an unbridled talent. He came to the club at 20 and I remember how I felt at that age. These guys come in very young and need support. We want to extend the contract with Leau. I think that Milan is an ideal club for Rafa’s career development, ”- another autumn quote by Maldini.
• Shortly before the 2022 World Cup, Milan wanted to sign a new contract with Leau – it did not work out. “We have been thinking about it for months, even years. When the time is right, we will meet. When a decision needs to be made, we will make it. As for predictions… We wanted to close this issue before the World Cup, especially for the players who will take part in it. In the case of Leau, this was not possible, ”Paolo explained.
• In January, Maldini hinted that the parties are close to signing a new contract: “We communicate with Leau representatives, organize video calls, and not just meet. We are trying to reach an agreement. It seems that both parties want to continue cooperation, and we will try to close the deal.”
Two months have passed, and there is still no news about a new contract.
“Maybe I should give him my house too?” Zlatan in signature style persuades Leau to stay
Zlatan Ibrahimovic also really wants Leau to stay at AC Milan.
• Milan is the most suitable environment for him. Just look at his progress – when he came here, he was nowhere near the key player he is today. Here he is very important for us, but will it be the same in another club? He would have to start from scratch and it is not certain that he will be ready right away,” the AC Milan striker told Sky Sport Italia in December last year.
• A couple of months later, Zlatan praised Leau again: “He had a fantastic year, he won the award for the best player in the league. Then the contract, the interest of other clubs, the World Cup and so on. But he must remain focused on football. Everything else will be decided, and he just needs to think about the game. He is stronger than a year ago. This year everyone found out who Leau is, last year they talked about him less. Now they know that he is one of the strongest and treat him more attentively,” said the AC Milan striker.
• In February, Ibrahimovic joked about the situation with Leau’s contract extension, hinting at the immodest financial appetites of the Portuguese: “I reduced my salary for him – now I play for free. Maybe give him my house too?
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