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Despite having £26m offer rejected, Everton must push to sign this highly-rated AC Milan starlet

Rafael Leao (Getty Images)
Rafael Leao (Getty Images)

Why Everton should continue to push hard for Rafael Leao in the market

According to claims from Italian outlet Calciomercato (h/t Liverpool Echo), Everton have expressed an interest in signing highly-rated AC Milan forward Rafael Leao in the January transfer window.

As per the report, the Toffees have had a £26million offer for the Portuguese starlet turned down by the Serie A giants. While Milan are open to selling him, Carlo Ancelotti’s side need to improve their bid if they are to stand any chance of luring the youngster away from the San Siro. 

Leao’s rise in recent years

After managing only 5 first-team appearances for his boyhood club Sporting Lisbon, Rafael Leao shot to prominence with LOSC Lille in France. The young forward bagged 8 goals and 3 assists in 24 appearances over the course of an impressive breakthrough season in Ligue 1 back in 2018-19. 

Rafael Leao (R) in action against SPAL (Getty Images)
Rafael Leao (R) in action against SPAL (Getty Images)

That was enough to earn him a coveted move to AC Milan in the following summer. Leao featured as a key squad player for the Rossoneri in his debut season, scoring 6 times in 33 appearances across all competitions.

The Portuguese U-21 international has, however, gone from strength to strength to establish himself in a more prominent role under Stefano Pioli this term. Leao has played in 14 out of Milan’s 19 Serie A fixtures so far, contributing with 5 goals and 4 assists in the process. Suffice to say, he has been instrumental in the club’s march to the top of the league standings.

Everton’s lack of depth in attack

Dominic Calvert-Lewin has hit great heights as the spearhead of Everton’s forward line this season, with eye-watering returns of 15 goals in 20 across all competitions so far. The England international has been well supported by the likes of Richarlison and James Rodriguez on the flanks in Ancelotti’s preferred 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formations.

Rafael Leao himpressed with AC MIlan last season (Getty Images)
Rafael Leao has enjoyed an impressive rise at AC Milan (Getty Images)

However, the Toffees’ lack quality alternatives in front of goal beyond their regular starting options. Ancelotti was forced to go into the 2-1 win over Wolves earlier in the month without a specialist striker following an injury to Calvert-Lewin. The manager clearly hasn’t shown much faith in Cenk Tosun, relegating the Turk to simply a token back-up up top.

While Alex Iwobi and Gylfi Sigurdsson have stepped up to provide quality cover in multiple areas across the final third, Everton can certainly do with more depth in their squad. Theo Walcott and Moise Kean are currently out on loan while Bernard seems to be simply making up the numbers. That has further limited Ancelotti’s options.

Leao an ideal signing for Everton?

Everton going all out in their pursuit of Rafael Leao would represent a smart long-term move. The Portuguese starlet is right up there with the best rising talents across the continent and his inclusion would surely offer Ancelotti some real quality and depth.

Leeds United are interested in signing Rafael Leao (Getty Images)
Everton are interested in signing Rafael Leao (Getty Images)

The 21-year-old’s versatility remains one of his key assets, besides his obvious ability to score and create goals at the highest level. While essentially a centre-forward by trade, Leao has also been utilised to good effect out wide on the left and through the middle as a supporting striker. Those qualities should make him a real asset.

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The Toffees need more than one quality player competing for places in each department if they are to go toe-to-toe with the elite clubs in English football. Leao is already performing at a very high level. He still has plenty of room for development at 21. That should make him worth a significant outlay for Everton.

Written by Sayan Chatterjee

A Premier League enthusiast and an avid follower of the beautiful game.

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