Manchester City have continued planning ahead by lodging a €25million (£22.2million) bid for in-demand Sporting striker Rafael Leao, journalist Duncan Castles reports.
The 18-year-old is widely regarded as Portugal’s most impressive young attacker, and despite currently playing for Sporting’s B team in the country’s second division, the club have also received a series of inquiries from the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Real Madrid.
Pep Guardiola has made the first concrete move to acquire the Portuguese under-21 international though, with City offering a fee of around €25million for a player expected to go far in the game.
The Lisbon giants extended Leao’s contract until 2022 last October, inserting a hefty release clause of €60million (£52.3million) in anticipation of interest from Europe’s wealthy elite.
City’s move for Leao is similar to their Gabriel Jesus pursuit in 2016, when the forward was considered one of Brazil’s hottest young talent and the Blues moved to sign him before his price skyrocketed, eventually leading to them paying an initial £27million.
The Premier League leaders made a similar attempt to sign Kylian Mbappé when the teenager had just a handful of appearances to his name, then again last summer when he joined Paris Saint-Germain in a record deal for a teenage footballer.
It isn’t just Duncan Castles reporting this news, with Portugal’s Record newspaper having a story saying Leao is in Pep Guardiola’s plans for next season.
Leao has scored 6 goals in 11 appearances for Sporting B in Portugal’s second tier this season, and has also shone in the UEFA Youth League with 5 goals in 6 games plus 3 assists.
As mentioned, City face competition from Manchester United, Chelsea and Real Madrid – among others – for Sporting’s young gem. Here’s some footage of Rafael Leao in action:
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