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Jermaine Jenas and Rio Ferdinand were both in agreement that Rafael Leao has the X-factor after he played an integral role in helping AC Milan execute a crucial 1-0 Champions League last 16 first-leg victory over Tottenham. The Portuguese attacker caused carnage throughout the contest as he continued to dribble at the hapless Spurs defence, who struggled to keep him at bay despite committing numerous fouls.
Leao was undoubtedly the best player on the pitch as he lit up the spectacle with his spellbinding skill and ability to drive at defenders with the ball.
Had Milan been able to finish the chance he created in the second half, they could have been out of sight ahead of the return fixture in north London.
Nonetheless, Leao did his chances of earning a salary he would consider reflective of his importance at Milan no harm as contract talks continue behind the scenes at San Siro.
Leao’s current deal is up in the summer of 2024 and while talks are ongoing, a host of Premier League clubs are monitoring his situation in hope that he could become available.
AC Milan’s director Paolo Maldini revealed last September that Chelsea saw a £62million verbal proposal rejected for the player last summer and the Blues could yet reignite their interest at the end of the season.
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Ex-Tottenham midfielder Jenas believes Leao would be worth a punt for any club as he has all the attributes required to succeed at the top level.
Jenas told BT Sport: “I saw enough to know that I would buy him.”
To which Rio Ferdinand replied: “There’s enough to work with isn’t there?”
Jenas then continued: “100 per cent, he’s young. He just glides by people. He doesn’t even look like he’s running, he’s just gone.
“On the end product, we could be sitting here saying he’s got two assists today if two of his team-mates could head it.
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“So I think his numbers at the start of the night we saw are reasonable numbers.
“Those are the things that take a little bit longer and as you gain that experience, his numbers will improve. He can be moulded I think.”
Ferdinand was of the same opinion, adding: “I think what’s great about him is that he can change the rhythm of the game.
“The game was played at his pace, he can run about and then walk with the ball. If you can do that at the highest level, that tells me that there is something special there.
“I think he’s got enough there for teams to say ‘you know that I would like that at my disposal’. He’s doing that in a struggling team this year as well.”
Prior to scoring at the World Cup with Portugal, Leao also troubled Reece James in Chelsea’s two matches against AC Milan in the Champions League group stages.
Graham Potter even admitted that he was an admirer of Leao, hinting the Blues could return to the table at a later date.
Potter said: “You can see Leao’s quality and skills, it’s obvious. But he is part of a strong team. We have to respect that [he is under contract].”
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