LOSC Lille striker and rumoured Everton target Rafael Leao is set to quit the Ligue 1 side this summer, according to L’Equipe via Get French Football News.
The 20-year-old Portuguese joined Les Dogues last summer on a free transfer following his departure from Sporting CP, and is thought to be the subject of intense interest from the Toffees, Valencia and Napoli.
Recently promoted Aston Villa may potentially join the clutch of sides chasing his signature as well, but are not yet believed to have made an official approach. We and our Spanish and Italian opposition are believed to have presented Lille with offers for Leao’s services, though.
L’Equipe suggested in their Thursday edition that Marcel Brands presented a €37.5million (£33.6m) bid to the Stade Pierre Mauroy natives, while Valencia offered an initial €35million (£31.4m) with €5million (£4.4m) in various add-ons. Napoli, on the other hand, have offered the lowest base sum at €32.5million (£29.2m), but have included a 10% sell-on clause in their proposal.
Lille were intent on retaining Leao’s services for next season as they are preparing for life in the Champions League, having not competed in the premier UEFA competition since the 2011/12 season after winning the Ligue 1 title the season before.
Leao’s head is thought to have been turned by the potential of earning three times his salary at either of Everton, Napoli or Valencia, however, and Les Dogues will not keep hold of players that do not want to be a part of their project.
Lille are now working on acquiring their replacement for Leao, whose entourage feel this summer is the best moment to strike a move away from the Stade Pierre Mauroy and challenge on a higher level.
Napoli and Valencia will both be able to offer Leao European football next term, but the Serie A side boast Dries Mertens and Arkadiusz Milik in their strike force, while our La Liga opposition recently added Celta Vigo’s Maxi Gomez to theirs.
We, on the other hand, could thrust the £6,049-a-week forward into our starting XI should he opt for Merseyside over Spain or Italy.
Leao hit eight goals and two assists in 1,297 minutes of Ligue 1 action last season.
Here’s how these Everton fans reacted to L’Equipe’s report suggesting Leao is willing to quit Lille this summer…