Premier League champions Manchester City are reportedly leading the race to sign AC Milan’s rising star Rafael Leao.

According to Calciomercato, Manchester City are in pole position in the race to sign Rafael Leao. The AC Milan forward has emerged as one of the hottest prospects in the market right now, with multiple top clubs across Europe interested in his services.

The Portuguese international, after all, has enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence this season, even becoming one of Serie A’s top performers. Although a tally of just four goals and one assist might not raise too many eyebrows, his overall impact has been far greater, especially when it comes to pace, dribbling and hold-up play in the final third.

Leao has also impressed the onlookers with his combination play in the final third, having formed a brilliant attacking partnership alongside the likes of Ante Rebic, Brahim Diaz and Alexis Saelemaekers. Their collective contributions have helped Milan emerge as one of the favourites to lift the Serie A title this season.

Leao’s performances have not gone unnoticed either, with Manchester City prepared to snap him in the near future. They are aware of the 22-year-old’s wide range of skills in the final third, which are combined with the physical attributes that could potentially make him a success in the Premier League.

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From a tactical perspective, the former Sporting CP starlet is likely being courted as a direct replacement for Raheem Sterling. The English superstar is widely tipped to depart the Etihad in January, with Arsenal among the clubs interested in his services.

Much like Sterling, Leao is capable of playing in the number nine role and out wide. The tactical versatility he offers makes him a desirable option for Pep Guardiola. And with almost 100 competitive appearances for Milan, he offers significant experience at the highest level of football.

However, it appears Milan are keen on keeping hold of Rafael Leao for the long term. They are already preparing a new deal that will extend the forward’s contract till 2026 while significantly driving up his price tag.

The player himself is keen on remaining at San Siro and continuing his development under Stefano Pioli. As such, he is more than likely to sign the deal, thus forcing Manchester City to look for alternatives in the market.

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