Manchester City have identified the rising star of Portuguese football, Rafael Leao, as one of their summer targets according to recent reports, as they look to add another elite young player to their ranks after the successful signings of Leroy Sané and Gabriel Jesus.
A player of such talent isn’t only wanted by Pep Guardiola though, and according to an exclusive by Portugal’s Record newspaper on Sunday, Jose Mourinho has instructed Manchester United to rival City for the 18-year-old’s signing.
United have fallen even further behind City, who they have not finished above in the Premier League since Alex Ferguson retired, and there are now reports of them putting a stadium expansion on hold to fund a massive transfer splurge in the summer as they try to catch up to their Mancunian neighbours.
And Leao, one of European football’s most coveted young strikers, despite not yet featuring regularly Sporting’s first team, is said to be on Mourinho’s agenda.
Both Manchester City and Manchester United regularly scout the Portuguese league for talent, and both signed players from Benfica in the summer – City acquiring Ederson and United signing Victor Lindelöf.
The next battle off the pitch between the Manchester giants could be for the Portugal under-21 international, who Sporting are trying to make even more valuable by raising his release clause to €45million (£39.7million).
Leao has been compared to Kylian Mbappé in terms of potential, and has scored 6 goals in 11 appearances for Sporting B in the second division of Portuguese football, plus 5 goals in 6 games for Sporting’s under-19 side in the UEFA Youth League.
His appearances for Sporting’s first team have been limited to 134 minutes thus far, but even in that time he has scored twice, evidence of the enormous potential he possesses.
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