AC Milan have reportedly opened contract talks with Rafael Leao amidst interest from Arsenal.

AC Milan's Portuguese forward Rafael Leao reacts after missing a goal opportunity during the Italian Cup (Coppa Italia) semifinal, second leg football match between Inter and AC Milan on April 19, 2022 at the San Siro stadium in Milan. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP) (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)
AC Milan’s Portuguese forward Rafael Leao reacts after missing a goal opportunity during the Italian Cup (Coppa Italia) semifinal, second leg football match between Inter and AC Milan on April 19, 2022 at the San Siro stadium in Milan. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP) (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)

Arsenal have been linked with a move for Rafael Leao for a while now with the striker said to be considered a good replacement for Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah, both of whom are out of contract in the summer.

However, when I hear that a player is in talks with his club over a new deal at the same time as Arsenal are said to be very interested, I tend to believe the talk is all just agent games to get a better deal in Italy.

Leao will have two years left on his current AC Milan deal when the season ends and Ivan Gazidis’s club are keen to extend his deal as his value rises.

The 22-year-old is valued at around £45m, having signed for AC Milan for £26.55m from Lille in 2019.

Leao has 12 goals and seven assists in 38 games.

Bukayo Saka is currently Arsenal’s top scorer this season with 11 goals (and five assists)

February 2022

Arsenal are reportedly in the lead in the race for AC Milan winger Rafael Leao, following his impressive performances this season.

MILAN, ITALY: Rafael Leao of AC Milan celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Serie A match between AC Milan and UC Sampdoria at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on February 13, 2022. (Photo by Marco Luzzani / Getty Images)
MILAN, ITALY: Rafael Leao of AC Milan celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Serie A match between AC Milan and UC Sampdoria at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on February 13, 2022. (Photo by Marco Luzzani / Getty Images)

La Repubblica (via Sport Witness) report that Arsenal are in the lead for the signing of Rafael Leao, who has half of the Premier League following him at the moment.

The Gunners have shown the strongest interest, but AC Milan themselves are going to push to convince Leao to stay.

The 22-year-old winger has a contract until 2024, but Milan are hoping to lock him down for as long as possible. They currently consider him to be irreplaceable.

Leao has 10 goals and five assists in 27 appearances in all competitions this season, playing out on the left. He’s a strong dribbler as well, so he offers most of what you’d want in a winger.

MILAN, ITALY: Rafael Leao of AC Milan celebrates with his team-mate Brahim Diaz after scoring the opening goal during the Serie A match between AC Milan and UC Sampdoria at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on February 13, 2022. (Photo by Marco Luzzani / Getty Images)
MILAN, ITALY: Rafael Leao of AC Milan celebrates with his team-mate Brahim Diaz after scoring the opening goal during the Serie A match between AC Milan and UC Sampdoria at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on February 13, 2022. (Photo by Marco Luzzani / Getty Images)

I wouldn’t say a new left-winger is Arsenal’s biggest priority right now. That’s pretty clearly a new centre-forward and a new central midfielder.

But after that, left-wing would probably be pretty high up on the list.

Gabriel Martinelli is doing a good job there at the moment, but he’s still not the finished product, and he’s also the only real option in the position.

Emile Smith Rowe is the main alternative in the current squad, and it’s not his natural role.

If there’s any plan to move Martinelli into a central role, that would also be aided by the signing of a left-winger. Perhaps Arsenal could sign one new striker and a winger instead of the two new strikers it currently seems like they’ll need.

With how well Leao is performing, you wouldn’t say no to his signing whether you consider it a priority or not. But that might be the very same reason Milan won’t let him leave this summer.

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Arsenal fan since a young age, now a season ticket holder who enjoys writing, tweeting and making videos about the Gunners.