Chelsea transfer target reacts after AC Milan's shock decision to sack Paolo Maldini


Milan forward Rafael Leao (17) gestures during the Serie A football match n.37 JUVENTUS - MILAN on May 28, 2023 at the Allianz Stadium in Turin, Piedmont, Italy.

Rafael Leao has reacted with shock amid widespread reports that AC Milan have sacked Paolo Maldini.The club legend has been an important figure in the Rossoneri’s renaissance in recent years which saw them win a first Serie A title in a decade last season and reach the semi-finals of this season’s Champions League.

Maldini, who has served as Milan’s technical director since 2019, is understood to have been dismissed, along with director of football Ricky Massara, following a tumultuous meeting with owner Gerry Cardinale on Monday.

Following talks over how best to take the club forwards, cracks in the relationship between the trio emerged and culminated in Cardinale’s shock decision, according to widespread sources in Italy.

The futures of Milan’s most prized assets is already the subject of intense speculation with goalkeeper Mike Maignan and winger Rafael Leao already said to be considering their futures.

Both players have been strongly linked with moves to Chelsea but Leao’s future appeared to have been resolved after he ended a lengthy saga last week by signing a new long-term contract.

‘AC Milan is pleased to announce that Rafael Leao has renewed his contract with the Club until 30 June 2028,’ read a club statement.

‘Since joining in the summer of 2019, Rafa boasts 162 appearances, 41 goals and 29 assists for the Rossoneri, and was named “Best Player in Serie A” last season. AC Milan and Rafael continue their journey together.’

Maldini played a key role in the negotiations that saw the Portugal international commit his future to the club but was clearly disappointed with news that such a key figure at the club was due to depart by posting a ‘thinking face’ emoji on Twitter after new broke last night.

While Leao has fallen down the list of Chelsea’s top targets, a new goalkeeper remains a priority for new manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Neither Edouard Mendy nor Kepa Arrizabalaga have convinced they have the ability to be regarded as the club’s undisputed No.1 and Chelsea are actively seeking a replacement.

Maignan is firmly on Chelsea’s radar but the west London club also maintain an interest in Brentford’s David Raya as well as Porto’s Diogo Costa.

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