Leao dilemma: Saudi Arabia tempts, Milan contemplate €100 million sale


La Gazzetta dello Sport claim that Rafa Leao is being linked with a €100 million move to Saudi Arabia this summer. The newspaper write that a ‘giant question mark has been looming over Casa Milan for about a month, dominating all from above: What’s the future of Rafa Leao?’ For the past month, a trusted intermediary of Leao’s father has been in talks with Saudi Arabia, particularly Al Hilal, to gauge the sincerity and concreteness of their interest.

According to the report, Rafa is highly regarded in Saudi Arabia and seen as a potential star in the league of Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. However, in terms of concrete offers, nothing has materialized yet. Milan hasn’t received any official bids, only acknowledging the hypothetical scenario. They’re also aware that Leao is a candidate to replace Mbappé at PSG, from where an irrefusable offer could always arrive.

The dilemma revolves around two key issues: “how much” and “when”.

Regarding the transfer fee, Milan inserted a €175 million release clause in Leao’s contract renewal in 2023. While this is the club’s stated price, negotiations are always possible. Logic suggests Milan won’t accept double-digit offers, but anything below €100 million would open up the dilemma: sell or keep?

Leao has been a divisive figure at Milan, perhaps like no other. His strengths and weaknesses are clear for all to see. He’s a fantastic one-on-one player, arguably the most impressive athlete in the league. In almost every match, he has moments of omnipotence where he creates chances, dribbles past multiple defenders, or produces moves beyond human capability. However, with equal regularity, Leao can become absent, walking and somewhat detached, showing room for improvement in shooting, off-ball movement, and heading. For three seasons, he’s scored around 15 goals per season – not few, but for a talent like him in Serie A, not overwhelming either.

The timing of any potential offer is also crucial. The Saudi market is moving slower than last year, and PSG isn’t in a rush either. It’s more likely that an offer, if it comes, will arrive in July or even drag into August. This timing presents a problem for Milan, as losing their most important player late in the transfer window would leave little time to rebuild the team.

Given these factors, while a Leao departure after five years at Milan is possible, it’s not probable or straightforward. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s recent statement also resonates: “Maignan, Theo, and also Leao are staying.” Rather than a question mark, Zlatan’s gaze seems to have put an exclamation point on the matter.


Serie A obsessive.