Chelsea set to miss out on AC Milan star as contract talks progress amid Rafael Leao transfer
Chelsea fight for a new midfielder looks set to go on as AC Milan progress with key contract talks ahead of the new year. The Italian champions are embroiled in transfers with the Blues right now as Rafael Leao is heavily wanted whilst Olivier Giroud and Fikayo Tomori offer recent history between the two.
Hakim Ziyech is also on the table after a loan move failed to materialise over the summer. His impressive World Cup for Morocco may shift the tide back towards a move being completed next month though, especially with Leao’s uncertainty. Also involved as a player of interest between the two clubs is Algerian midfielder Ismael Bennacer. The lesser mentioned 25-year-old is out of contract next summer and has spiked the interest of several Premier League clubs, including former owners Arsenal.
Bennacer left the Emirates Stadium in 2017 and has gone on to forge a career in Italy after being picked up for £15m by Milan in 2019. Since then he has played 126 times for Milan and become a consistent figure in their impressive rise. As a player that is able to negotiate a free move away from Italy as early as next month, Bennacer came onto the radar of Chelsea. Any chance of him joining may be slipping away though, with La Gazzetta dello Sport writing that a breakthrough has been made for an extension.
Enzo Raiola is in charge of these discussions and is attempting to get a big raise for his client who is now valued at £44m. That would dent Chelsea’s hopes of bringing in a replacement for N’Golo Kante and Jorginho, both of whom see their own deals expire in June 2023. That doesn’t mean that talks with the Italian side will end there though, as Leao remains a major target.
The 2-year-old has an extra year on his contract but is digging his heels in and causing a stir at San Siro. Should the Portuguese forward not commit his future by the summer then the pendulum of power would swing to Chelsea, with the Blues then able to make demands as he enters the final 12 months. It is also not out of the question that a serious push is made for his services even sooner, with a reported £77m price tag on his head for January. That is far cheaper than the £127m release clause attached.