Just four months after he was reportedly subject to a €25million offer from Manchester City, Sporting CP wonderkid Rafael Leao became the ninth player to quit the troubled club today, TVI claims.
Leao, 19, is one of the most exciting young strike talents in Europe, and sources in both the UK and Portugal claimed that he was a target for Pep Guardiola in February.
The troubles at Sporting, which began when a group of thugs attacked players at the training ground, now see the club in crisis, after the likes of William Carvalho and Gelson Martins, two previously linked with an Etihad switch, walked out.
Bas Dost and Bruno Fernandes, two other valuable talents, also sent letters of resignation to the board, as have Rúben Ribeiro, Rodrigo Battaglia, Daniel Podence and Portugal goalkeeper Patrício.
Tonight’s news on Leao quitting the club will surely alert Manchester City, and possibly Manchester United and Chelsea, who were also said to be interested. However, the Premier League clubs may be out of luck if a report by DN is true in claiming that the teenager has a pre-agreement with Benfica. They say a big signing-on bonus is awaiting Leao if he goes ahead with the move.
Sporting had hoped to renew Leao’s contract and give him a bumper release club to try and ward off the likes of City and ultimately extract top dollar from a European club for him.
There are also suggestions in Portugal that if Sporting president Bruno de Carvalho resigns, all of the players who have rescinded their contracts would go back to the club, which could mean another twist in the tale yet.
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