AC Milan director Paolo Maldini has claimed that Rafael Leao is considered ‘non-transferable’ by the club amid Real Madrid links.
Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t 90 min), AC Milan sporting director Paolo Maldini has dealt Real Madrid a major blow in their pursuit of Rafael Leao, claiming that the Portuguese forward is ‘non-transferable’.
Leao has been with Milan since 2019 when he signed from Ligue 1 outfit LOSC Lille. After a decent first two years at the club, the 22-year-old stepped his game up a notch this season, emerging as the chief protagonist for the Rossoneri on their way to the Serie A title triumph.
Leao finished the 2021/22 campaign with a return of 14 goals and 12 assists from 42 matches in all competitions. His performances for AC Milan have led to serious interest from several clubs from across Europe, including Real Madrid.
The Merengues are looking for potential alternatives for Kylian Mbappe, who decided to snub them and extend his contract at Paris Saint-Germain. Leao, for one, has emerged as a prospective target for Real Madrid, with reports even claiming that the La Liga champions would be ready to shell out €120 million for his services.
AC Milan director Paolo Maldini tells Gazzetta dello Sport on Rafael Leão's future after PSG and Real Madrid rumours: "We consider Rafa Leão untouchable. He's not for sale". ??? #ACMilan pic.twitter.com/49yG7wPkJT
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 26, 2022
However, Real Madrid’s hopes of landing Leao this summer have been dealt a blow as AC Milan have no interest in selling him, with Maldini pointing out that the Portuguese international has a release clause worth €150 million, which would need to be triggered.
“Non-transferable? Of course, [Leao] is a diamond that is still in the making,” he said. “A player who made a massive improvement from one year to the next. We signed him from the Lille bench by paying €24 million and we immediately put a clause of €150 million in his contract because [Zvonimir] Boban, [Frederic] Massara and I believed in him.”
“As far as potential goes, he has always been a champion. He had to follow a path which, importantly, is not yet finished. He is extremely talented and needed a little help. I talked to him a lot. Obviously, if in the future Milan are no longer at Leao’s level, or Leao is not at Milan’s level, then things will change. But at this time, the growth is exponential for both the club and for him,” Maldini added.
So, unless Real Madrid would be open to triggering his €150 million release clause, a move for Leao would be difficult to pull off in the summer transfer window.