Man Utd start scouting mission to hijack Chelsea swoop for Rafael Leao

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Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has reportedly ‘sent scouts’ to watch AC Milan star Rafael Leao in a bid to beat Chelsea to the punch in the transfer race for the striker’s signature. Leao is regarded as one of the most talented forwards in world football at the moment and has just over 18 months left on his current contract.

Chelsea have been touted as the favourites for his signature with the Blues looking to freshen up their attacking options through the middle. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was signed on a two-year deal in the summer, but Chelsea’s interest in Leao indicates they’re still looking for other options.

But Chelsea may have to fend off competition from United for his signature now. According to the Daily Star, United are monitoring the AC Milan forward with an eye to make a bid next summer.

It’s indicated that Ten Hag is pushing behind the scenes at United to make a move for the 23-year-old. He reportedly ‘sent scouts’ to watch Leao in action during both of Milan’s recent matches against Chelsea in the Champions League.

The Portugal international is yet to get off the mark in this year’s European campaign and was unable to prevent Milan from losing to Chelsea in both matches. He’s enjoyed more success in Serie A though, playing his part in eight goals through as many matches.

The forward is currently said to be valued at £60million by Milan, but the Italian outfit will be under pressure to sell if no progress is made in talks over a new contract. Milan have offered Leao a new five-year contract with wages worth around £100,000-a-week.

But his reluctance to put pen to paper indicates Leao is angling for a move away and United appear keen to monitor his situation. A move in the January window has been ruled out though with Ten Hag supposedly ‘being told money will be at a premium’ in the mid-season transfer market.

Anthony Martial and Cristiano Ronaldo are Ten Hag’s current attacking options through the middle, but the Frenchman has struggled with injuries to start the new season. Ronaldo has also been short of his usual goalscoring prowess, seemingly prompting Ten Hag to look at alternatives in the market.

Martial’s latest injury isn’t expected to rule him out for long with Ten Hang hinting the forward could be in contention to return against Newcastle on Sunday.

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