Everton reportedly tried to sign Rafael Leao last summer, but AC Milan’s player valuation proved too high for the Toffees.
According to a report in Calciomercato, Everton tried to sign AC Milan forward Rafael Leao and even obtained information about the player from his agent Jorge Mendes. However, the Rossoneri believe that Leao could prove to be a big asset for them in future, which gave them the resistance to avoid the temptation of selling him in this summer’s transfer window.
Everton’s name was constantly linked with Leao throughout the summer, and speculations of a potential swap also attracted many eyes. James Rodriguez was looking for a new home after the departure of Carlo Ancelotti, and his agent Jorge Mendes even offered him to the AC Milan. The rumours were spreading like fire due to the fact that both players are represented by the same agent in Mendes.
However, Milan had complete faith in the 22-year-old and took the Portuguese off the transfer market to ward off any interest from the suitors. The Italian giants did take a look at the prospect of signing James as it would make sense for them to sign the Columbian as a replacement for Hakan Calhanoglu but ultimately dropped the idea due to players’ massive wages and recent injury issues.
After progressing through the youth ranks at the revered Sporting CP academy, Leao burst into the spotlight while playing for Ligue 1 club LOSC Lille. The 22-year-old spent a successful season at Stade Pierre Mauroy, as he netted eight goals and set up two more in 26 games, persuading AC Milan to pay £24 million to sign the wonderkid from Lille back in 2019.
Since arriving at Milan, Leao has shown glimpses of his talent but has largely been inconsistent, which limited him to only a useful squad player for the Rossoneri. The Portuguese attacking midfielder, who can play anywhere across the frontline, has racked up 77 appearances for the Red and Blacks so far, scoring 14 goals while assisting a further ten times.
Multiple sources suggest Everton were going ahead with a big-money offer, only for AC Milan’s massive €50 million price tag becoming a stumbling block. However, considering the FFP sanctions, there are doubts whether the Toffees would have even been able to afford Leao if the deal had gone through.
Everton’s alleged interest was justifiable because they needed a quality versatile forward following the departures of Theo Walcott and Bernard. However, Financial Fair Play restrictions meant they needed to rely on cheaper alternatives.
The Toffees summer transfer business ended with four signings for a combined £1.6 million in transfer fees. They brought in experienced Premier League players in Salomon Rondon, Andros Townsend and Asmir Begovic on Bosman transfers while they also added English winger Demarai Gray from Leverkusen to add pace to the frontline.
It would be interesting to see whether Everton would revive their interest in Rafael Leao in the upcoming transfer windows.