GdS: ‘Europe observes’ – Leao makes declaration on future as Milan set minimum price

By Oliver Fisher -

Rafael Leao produced one of his best performances of the season on Sunday night against Atalanta, and a few days later at the launch of his book he made it clear he sees his future at AC Milan.

As La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below) recalls, Leao’s celebration raised some eyebrows as it seemed like an almost angry reaction after the criticism he has received in recent weeks. The winger waved his hands in front of the cameras as if to say, ‘speak, speak’.

He hadn’t celebrated a league goal for five months, a drought which left a void that was inevitably filled with questions. The answer is clear again: Leao belongs to the small group among the best in his role.

Rafa’s rise

Leao made his way through the competition. He arrived at Milan in the summer of 2019 as a promising young player but a talent that needed some refining.

The Scudetto win in 2021-22 saw him crowned as the league MVP, while last year’s Champions League semi-final run was achieved thanks to Leao’s run and assist for Olivier Giroud away against Napoli.

The evolution has been constant, even with some necessary aftershocks. The market valuation followed the same trajectory: Milan bought him for €24, and protected him last year with a €175m release clause.

That release clause serves a double purpose, because it makes it clear that a very high offer would be needed to even bring Milan to the table, otherwise they will keep him locked in a safe rather than in the shop window.

Milan are not willing to open that safe and neither is Rafa, as he was asked questions about his future at the launch of his autobiography ‘Smile’ last night: “Where do I see my future? Here, where I am happy. PSG? I still want to win a lot with this important shirt.”

His true value and Milan’s stance

A combination to open the safe exists: 175, i.e. the number of millions in the clause. It would then be up to Leao to decide whether to leave or not. PSG, who will have to fill the void left by Kylian Mbappé, are among the clubs that could be interested.

The Rossoneri’s strategy is clear: none of the stars are for sale but there are offers that will be listened to, and Sandro Tonali is a practical example. It wasn’t Milan that looked for Newcastle, but Newcastle that arrived with a monstrous bid that allowed the squad to be revamped.

From Milan, Rafa is worthy of a three-figure offer, and an official bid of around €120m may well get their attention. However, it has to arrive first.

The modern transfer market does not offer discounts. In August 2021, Manchester City bought Jack Grealish – four years older than Leao – from Aston Villa for €117m. In January 2023, Mudryk went from Shakhtar to Chelsea for €100m.

These are useful comparisons to establish Leao’s market value, but in the mean time the winger has goals that he wants to tick off with Milan which, in turn, he can achieve thanks to his goals.


Tags AC Milan Rafael Leao


    1. But with the money from Leao’s sale they could fix the leaky defense, get a proper coach and get 2-3 good starters to lift the quality of the team.

      I’d still prefer to sell e.g. MM16 and focus on fixing the leaky defense instead of a “revolution” buy selling Leao.

    2. That’s because of over reliance which comes.from the masterclass pioli tactics. If we sell rafa I’m sure someone else will raise to the occasion. Probably pulisic

      1. On his best day Pulisic will never be a good as Leao. You haven’t a complete lack of understanding of talent. What a strange comparison to make.

  1. Of the clubs that can afford him:

    PSG, I think, will prioritise Osimhen
    Madrid don’t need him
    Man City don’t need him and Doku is a better player than Leao anyway (sorry, he is)
    Hard working Liverpool is a poor fit in my opinion, but new a coach might change that of course.
    Arsenal or Man Utd…yeah, maybe but Utd have just sent an expensive flair player who doesn’t track back out on loan so…
    Newcastle, would he go there with no UCL?
    Bayern, possibly but it’s such a dull league
    Saudi, no chance.

    I think (and hope) he stays. My gut says the bids never materialise.

    1. Good analysis and I agree. Particularly with the PSG sentiment. Not only is Osimhen a probably target that will consume their war chest, but if he goes somewhere else there is his teammate, Kvaratskhelia, who also plays LW, that will be an option that is surely cheaper than the 175m Leao release clause. So I’m hoping they will distract potential suitors away from Rafa. It’s very likely Napoli will miss out on the CL, so it will be a year zero for them, to our advantage in more ways than one.

      As to Bayern, I don’t think it’s even a possibility. Bayern is the best run club on the planet, and they’re not going to pay 175m for one player. It just won’t happen.

      Liverpool will need a RW more than a LW, as it seems Salah’s time is over. They have Diaz, Gakpo and Jota at LW. So Liverpool is not a suitor by default.

      Arsenal is a no based on their spending philosophy. United is a no based on them basically not even being a CL club anymore (same issue as Newcastle). Madrid and City are as you said.

      So really, the only clubs that can afford him are Madrid, City and PSG, and of those two don’t need him, with Madrid also spending a lot on signing Mbappe, and that leaves PSG who will also probably be chasing Osimhen and Kvara. The odds are really good Rafa stays with us.

      1. Apparently PSG have just said that they aren’t interested in Leão for this summer. So, like you said, it’s likely that he will stay with us, which is great.

  2. This is why i keep saying these current management and owner are the cause of Milans Problem since last year, they decided to go for revolution instead of continuity with more quality players.

    Why would you want to sell your key players just to raise funds to buy average players which most big clubs will never do.

    You are planing of challenging for scudetto and UCL next season yet you want to sell key players, How can that works.

    Americans don’t have plans for Milan just to come and make money. That’s all

    1. What are you getting at? The management are obviously NOT trying to sell Leão, or else they wouldn’t have slapped his contract with a 175M release clause, which is meant to discourage buyers. Just because a journalist publishes an article about a possible sale, doesn’t mean that the management are ACTUALLY trying to sell him. It’s just a journalist trying to get clicks.

      Of course if a club were to to offer a huge amount close to that release clause, ANY club would listen to the offer, not just Milan, and that would happen regardless of who is managing Milan.

      There are no players in any club who are not negotiable period; if a huge offer came around. When one says that a player is not negotiable, it means that the player won’t be sold by any regular offer, but if an offer came that far surpassed all reasonable expectations, clubs would listen, of course. Then, maybe the sale would still not happen, but it’s impossible to not listen to huge offers. This would happen not because the owner of Milan is American, but rather because that’s how the market works.

      1. I’m not familiar how contracts work, but couldn’t they have made a ridiculous release clause like the ones Real Madrid do for its players ? Because while 175M is huge, PSG can and did pay this amount or more.

  3. We need to keep Leao and Theo. Sell Mike if you must.

    Anyone calling for Leao’s departure… seriously?! Have you not seen Milan play without him???

    Everything goes through him. Here is the most dangerous player in the team. PERIOD!

    1. Absolutely. I’d sell Mike if the right offer came around, but definitely not Rafa an not Theo.

      Mike has been average at best. His expected saves in good on-target shots index, went from +7 at Lille, to +4.3 at Milan up to last season, to -3 this current season, which is a steep decline, for whatever reason (mental, physical? I don’t know why but the decline is very easy to notice). Mike has been letting in soft goals especially at the near post, and hasn’t saved a PK in the last 11 attempts. There are Serie A goalies that are performing a lot better than MIke, the top one being Di Gregorio. With the right offer, we should sell Mike and buy Di Gregorio.

      Theo and Rafa, they are not replaceable at their current level of quality, so whoever advocates for them to be sold doesn’t really understand their importance to Milan.

      The Theo-Rafa chemistry is fabulous and anytime Rafa doesn’t play, our offense is flat and Theo doesn’t perform as well.

      Even when Rafa doesn’t produce goals or assists, he bothers the opponents’ defense and requires double or triple marking, thus opening space for his companions. Milan is one team with Rafa, and a much weaker team without him. He is our best player, period, and the exaggerated criticism thrown at him, with stereotypical terms like “lazy” for me are frankly racist.

      Rafa plays while dealing with a calf injury, runs less, and people then immediately jump in to call him “lazy.” He scores or assists, and people jump in to say it was lucky and he didn’t do anything else. It is uncanny how supposed Milan fans over-criticize the guy who is CLEARLY our best player.

      1. Yep. I’ve been saying this for a while. The obvious “sacrifice” this summer, if one needs to be made, is Mike. Given his decline, I’m not sure what his fee will ultimately be, but anything in the 40-60m range would do us well. Add to that the ~30m we’re going to get for CDK, Saelemaekers and Colombo, plus another 30-40m from the usual transfer budget and you’ve got at least 100m to spend. This can get us at least a replacement GK (Di Gregorio sounds good to me) and a top striker, and probably a good DM and also a proper backup for Theo, and these are precisely the areas we need to beef up. So if we can pull it off properly, we should have a very good squad for 2024/25.

  4. “ If we sell rafa I’m sure someone else will raise to the occasion. Probably pulisic”

    This is THE MOST DENSE thing I’ve ever read on these threads…


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