Why Wolves should reignite their interest in Rafael Leao
Back in August, Italian outlet Calciomercato (h/t Birmingham Live) had reported that Wolves were keeping tabs on AC Milan striker Rafael Leao with a view to a potential transfer before the summer deadline. However, no move materialised and the youngster stayed put at the San Siro.
The Black County outfit had also been touted with an interest in Leao back in the summer of 2019 when he was plying his trade with LOSC Lille in France. The Portuguese starlet eventually moved to AC Milan and went on to enjoy an impressive debut season in Italy.
Rafael Leao rose through the youth ranks of Sporting Lisbon and made his first-team bow during the 2017-18 campaign after impressing for the reserve side in the second-tier. He made only 5 appearances for Sporting in all competitions, scoring twice, before completing a move to French side Lille in the summer of 2018.
The 21-year-old bagged 8 goals and 3 assists in 24 appearances over the course of an impressive debut season in Ligue 1. Leao established himself as one of the most sought-after young strikers in Europe following his exploits at Lille, prompting AC Milan to pay a staggering €35million to secure his services in 2019.
Leao amassed 6 goals and 3 assists in 33 appearances across all competitions for the Rossoneri last season and has made a positive start to the 2020-21 campaign. The versatile forward has registered 3 goals and 3 assists in 8 appearances so far, finding the net both in the Serie A and Europa League. Leao has represented Portugal across various underage levels between U-16 and U-21 but is yet to make his senior international debut.
Leao would add more depth to Wolves’ attack
Wolves forked out a massive £35million to sign Portuguese teenager Fabio Silva from FC Porto in the summer to reduce the goalscoring workload on undisputed No.9 Raul Jimenez. However, the departure of Diogo Jota to Liverpool before the deadline dealt a huge blow to the club’s depth and quality in the final third.
Silva is yet to make an impact in the Premier League, which is not surprising given his lack of experience.
Adama Traore is yet to register a single goal or an assist in the Premier League so far this season after a prolific campaign last time around. However, the likes of Daniel Podence and Pedro Neto have improved massively this term, and their rich vein of form has helped Wolves cope with the departure of Jota.
Wolves, though, will eventually need to bring in a readymade replacement for Jota given that Silva still needs time to acclimatise to his new surroundings. And reigniting interest in Rafael Leao would definitely make a lot of sense in footballing terms.
Essentially a centre-forward by trade, the Portuguese starlet has the versatility to slot into a wide attacking role on the left. He’s also capable of playing as a supporting striker behind the No.9, so a potential deal for the 21-year-old in January would hand a boost to Wolves’ squad depth and dynamics in the final third.
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Rafael Leao already has professional top-flight experience in Portugal, France, and Italy. Thus he would be a readymade replacement for Jota in Wolves’ ranks. His versatility to operate in so many different positions would also allow Nuno Santo to rotate his squad effectively and take some pressure off Jimenez’s shoulders.
The 21-year-old still has his best years ahead of him and the strong Portuguese contingent at Molineux will surely help him settle down quickly.