Liverpool linked with club-record move for Milan star regarded as one of world’s best as Jorge Mendes looks to intervene

Theo Hernandez, Rafael Leao AC Milan, celebrate a goal during Serie A game v Atalanta at San Siro

Liverpool are reportedly keeping a close watch on the situation regarding Rafael Leao at AC Milan after reports in Italy indicated he was coming under Jurgen Klopp’s transfer gaze.

The Reds have spent heavily on strengthening their attack in recent seasons. Having paid £40m for Diogo Jota in a deal described as ‘striking gold’ in summer 2020, they have since also signed Luis Diaz (£54m) and Darwin Nunez (£85.5m).

Furthermore, star man Mohamed Salah has also recently signed a new deal committing him to the Reds for a further three years. That comes at a premium cost, however, with the Egyptian king reportedly earning £350,000 a week at Anfield.

As such, it comes as a surprise to see the Reds linked with another big-name attacker in Leao.

That’s according to Calciomercato, who claim the Reds are one of several sides keeping a close watch on the 23-year-old.

Indeed, they claim the Reds are huge admirers of the player and are keeping a close watch on his situation at the San Siro.

However, Liverpool are far from alone with fellow suitors Chelsea, Manchester City and PSG also keen. A recent report also claimed Manchester United were planning a huge approach for the Portuguese star.

Leao has established himself as one of the leading players in Serie A in recent seasons. To that end, he proved their leading light as Milan ended a 10-year wait to win the Scudetto in 2021/22.

And his magnificent form has continued this with Leao boasting four goals and eight assists in 13 appearances so far this season.

Milan looking to keep Rafael Leao and extend exit clause

As such, it’s little surprise to see AC Milan doing all in their power to try and persuade Leao to stay.

They are currently holding talks with his agent Jorge Mendes over a new deal at the San Siro. Among the subjects of discussion around the renewal talks will be the player’s release clause.

That is currently set at just over £130m – but Milan, amid a worry that he could be poached away – are looking to extend that higher. Mendes, however, is reportedly keen to ensure the exit clause does not climb further.

While the player is happy with the Rossonerri and keen to commit to a new deal, the raising of the exit clause could become a sticking point.

And as Milan have found to their cost previously with Gianluigi Donnarumma and Franck Kessie, other clubs can pay more than Milan when it comes to their leading players.

As such, Liverpool will reportedly keep a close eye on the talks with a view to a possible future move.

His current deal is due to expire in summer 2024. And failure to extend the deal now could leave them vulnerable to a possible approach from a leading suitor.

However, Milan are likely to refer to his £130m exit clause should anyone approach them in the meantime.

Liverpool have other areas of focus

Despite reported links to Liverpool for Leao, it is unlikely they have anything stronger than a passing interest at present.

Having spent the best part of £170m on strengthening their attack, a move for another new forward appears unlikely at this stage.

And despite losing Jota to a calf problem for the next two months, Liverpool’s transfer focus in January is likely to be elsewhere.

Indeed, the Reds are planning to go all out to strengthen their midfield in 2023 with at least one new arrival on the agenda.

Their top target is reportedly Jude Bellingham, though they are also looking at Benfica’s Florentino Luiz, among others.

And with a deal for the England man likely to cost in the region of £100m, they can ill afford to spend more money on another forward.

One man who the Reds are in a hurry to keep, however, is Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian’s excellent start to the season has seen him score eight goals, adding four assists.

But with his contract due to expire in the summer, the Reds are looking to tie him to a new deal as quickly as possible.

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