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Man City manager Pep Guardiola eyes ‘untouchable’ superstar as Raheem Sterling’s replacement

Man City manager Pep Guardiola eyes ‘untouchable’ superstar as Raheem Sterling’s replacement

Manchester City have identified Milan star Rafael Leao as a potential reinforcement with the summer transfer market set to open in just 10 days.

The Citizens have reportedly began conversations with the player’s representative Jorge Mendes about a transfer in recent weeks, putting them ahead of other interested European teams such as Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

City are keeping an eye on the situation surrounding Raheem Sterling’s future.

Leao is still under contract at San Siro for another two years, and the Italian club has already offered him a contract extension, according to Footmercato journalist Santi Aouna, but the team is having problems keeping their talisman beyond the summer.

Pep Guardiola sees the 22-year-old as a possible replacement for Sterling, who has been linked with a move away from the Etihad due to a lack of regular game time. 

However, City are said to be competing with Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain for his signing. According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Carlo Ancelotti’s side is willing to pay somewhat more than £100 million (€120 million) to capture Leao’s services.

When asked about Leao’s future, Milan’s technical director and club veteran Paolo Maldini hailed him as a ‘untouchable’ talent.

“We consider Rafael Leao as a key and untouchable player,” he told Gazetta dello Sport. “He is not up for sale. He is still a diamond in the rough that has undergone significant improvements year upon year.

“We bought him from Lille by paying €24m and we immediately put a €150m release clause on him because Boban Massara and I believed in him.” Touched by Maldini’s words, Leao responded: “I’m at Milan and I have another two years on my contract. Untouchable? I’m happy with those words. 

“I feel at home but now my focus is on the national team. I’m very happy but my feet are firmly on the ground. 

“People may not know this, but Ligue 1 is a strong league and I have improved. The first two years did not go as I would have liked but now, I am more mature and confident, this season has gone as I wanted, and I hope to do great things in the future.”

After a brief but excellent season at Lille, where he helped the French team finish second in Ligue 1, the 22-year-old joined Stefano Pioli’s side for £32 million in 2019.

He was involved in several crucial goals for Milan this season, scoring 14 times and contributing 12 goal assists in all competitions, as Milan won the Serie A title for the first time since 2004.

Leao was also the highest goal scorer with 11 goals, tied with Olivier Giroud.

Guardiola and co will undoubtedly face a difficult battle in securing the Portuguese’s signature, but starting negotiations before the transfer window opens indicates how serious they are about defending their Premier League title next season.


Man City manager Pep Guardiola eyes ‘untouchable’ superstar as Raheem Sterling’s replacement

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