Premier League • England

Arsenal striker transfer receives telling update, as clubmate’s refusal ramps up Tottenham deal

AC Milan players Rafael Leao and Franck Kessie

Arsenal hopes of landing AC Milan forward Rafael Leao have suffered a blow, though teammate Franck Kessie has given rivals Tottenham hope of forging a separate deal, per a trusted source.

The summer window is shaping up to be one of the most important in Arsenal’s recent history. The final third is where the action is expected to centre. Indeed, Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah will both be free agents, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has already left.

If new deals for Nketiah and Lacazette aren’t signed, signing at least two new forwards may become a necessity rather than a luxury.

The likes of Ollie Watkins, Alexander Isak and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have all been linked for the centre-forward position. However, an option for a wide berth recently took shape in the form of Rafael Leao.

The AC Milan attacker, 22, had emerged on the Gunners’ radar according to the Sun. Leao was previously valued around the £50m mark, and is enjoying his best season to date at AC Milan.

Leao has bagged 10 goals and six assists across all competitions at the San Siro. Those contributions have helped the Rossoneri ascend to the summit of the Serie A table at present.

AC Milan dig in over Rafael Leao

Italian outlet Gazzetta Dello Sport recently confirmed Arsenal’s interest in the Portuguese left winger. His arrival on the left could prompt Gabriel Martinelli to move into a central position.

However, the report also hinted plans are afoot to tie Leao down to a fresh contract at the San Siro. If signed, it would significantly reduce Arsenal’s chances of buying Leao in the summer.

Arsenal looking at Rafael Leao from AC Milan for £50m

Arsenal are looking at Rafael Leao from AC Milan for £50m

Now, transfer guru Fabrizio Romano has backed up those claims with a disheartening update for the Gunners

Romano tweeted AC Milan are ‘not worried’ about the speculation linking Leao to English clubs. That’s because a contract extension is now ‘getting closer’.

While that Arsenal move is expected to end in disappointment, Romano hinted bitter rivals Tottenham may have better luck after an encouraging update on their AC transfer target – Franck Kessie.

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Kessie ‘expected to leave’ with stance crystal clear

Kessie, 25, is out of contract in the summer. The combative Ivory Coast midfielder would appear to be the ideal fit for an Antonio Conte midfield.

Conte tends to select all-action and dogged stars that make life difficult for the opposition. The likes of Arturo Vidal, Marcelo Brozovic and Nicolo Barella all fit that mould, and all played crucial parts in Inter’s march to Serie A glory under Conte last season.

Kessie had held talks with Spurs in the winter window, but opted to remain at AC for the final six months of his deal.

He has repeatedly been mentioned as high on Conte and Fabio Paratici’s shortlist for summer targets.

Now, Romano has fuelled the fire when stating Kessie’s future almost certainly lays away from Milan.

Romano tweeted Kessie is ‘still not accepting’ an AC contract offer worth ‘€6.5m net’ (approximately £105,000-per-week). As such, Kessie is ‘expected to leave’ in the summer.

A midfield three of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Rodrigo Bentancur and Kessie would give even the most formidable Premier League midfields a run for their money.

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