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Chelsea winger Mykhaylo Mudryk would not see a reduction in his playing time next season if the Blues manage to complete a money-spinning deal for AC Milan forward Rafael Leao this summer, according to reports. Leao is said to have emerged as a priority target for the west Londoners over the last few months, with the 23-year-old having been targeted back in January but to no avail.
Chelsea showed an interest in Leao during the later stages of the window but were unable to strike a deal with Milan after being pointed to his £130million release clause at the time. The Portuguese marksman has since penned a new and improved five-year deal at the San Siro, which has raised his buyout clause to around £152m ahead of the summer months.
It remains to be seen whether Chelsea will be prepared to match Leao’s new asking price before the start of next season, with the idea of a move having raised fears over Mudryk’s hopes of playing for the Blues on a weekly basis. However, it has been claimed by The Athletic that the 22-year-old’s standing would not be affected because Chelsea view Leao as a central striker rather than a wide player.
It is said that Chelsea executives reached out to Milan shortly after the January window in order to explore whether or not he was poised to sign a new contract with a higher release clause than before. He was reportedly being considered for a striking role at Stamford Bridge at the time, which suggests that Mudryk would be safe on the wing if Leao ends up joining the two-time European champions in the not-too-distant future.
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Chelsea were said to have offered two players in exchange for Leao in January, with Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech being proposed as part of a part-exchange deal that would have seen the Portuguese striker move the other way. Milan were in no mood to compromise on their demands, though, and Leao stayed put in spite of Chelsea’s best efforts to lure him to the Premier League.
Only time will tell if the Blues decide to go back in for Leao over the course of the upcoming summer window, with any move likely to hinge on whether they are prepared to smash their existing transfer record by buying him out of his new contract in Italy. The man himself recently played down the possibility of a move to Chelsea by revealing that he is not a fan of the English weather while joking about how simple he finds playing in Italy as Milan continue their push for a top-four finish.
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“Serie A is very easy, yes it seems,” said Leao earlier this year. “Before reaching Serie A I was in France, where the first year was difficult. They came in hard. But when you’re skilled, when you’re faster, you can create and make a difference.
“The second year was much better and I grew a lot. I have to show the world what I can do on and off the pitch. I don’t like the weather there [in England]. I went shopping the first time I went to London.”
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