Chelsea wants to land Rafael Leao, and it tempted AC Milan with offers including either Christian Pulisic or Hakim Ziyech. This happened last summer, when the Portuguese was coming off a player of the year performance in Serie A as Milan won the Scudetto.

According to James Horncastle of The Athletic, Chelsea valued Leao at around $108 million. At the time, Leao had one year left on his contract at Milan. The previous season saw him score 11 and assist 10 in Serie A play. He would have fit in well as either a striker or left wing, his two primary positions.

To help meet that cost, Chelsea wanted to offload Christian Pulisic or Hakim Ziyech. Ornstein reports that Chelsea’s initial valuation of its own players came down to meet that of the singular Leao. Regardless, Milan did not bite. It was too late in the transfer window. Moreover, Leao’s contract at Milan had a massive buyout clause of around $150 million.

Recently, Leao committed his future to Milan. He signed a deal that runs through 2028, and Leao will now make around $7 million per season.

Chelsea misses out on Leao despite Ziyech and Pulisic offers

That denial of the summer bid for Leao did not fully diminish Chelsea’s interest. In the winter, when the Blues were on a record spending spree, Chelsea approached Milan again for Leao. The club wanted to know if Milan was extending its contract with Leao. Fast forward a few months, and that contract is ready.

For Chelsea, it still does not have the answer at the striker position. Plus, Todd Boehly and the Chelsea hierarchy face the task of taking care of a bloated squad. With Mauricio Pochettino taking over for next season, he will surely have a say in what players arrive and, importantly for those like Ziyech and Pulisic, who leaves.

PHOTO: IMAGO /Gruppo LiveMedia