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Rafael Leao deals blow to AC Milan after opening contract offer

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AC Milan forward Rafael Leao and his representatives have rejected the first offers of a contract renewal from the Serie A side, 90min understands.

90min revealed before the World Cup that Milan’s attempts to tie Leao down to a new deal before the international break had failed, with long-term admirers Chelsea keeping a very close eye on things.

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Chelsea have made Leao one of their top transfer targets for 2023 and have been buoyed by the news that the Portugal international has rejected Milan’s initial proposals for an extension.

Blues owner Todd Boehly is an enormous fan of the 23-year-old forward and is planning to open talks with Milan over a deal to bring Leao to Stamford Bridge at the end of the season, having already been informed by Milan that a January transfer is completely out of the question.

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Chelsea have already effectively wrapped up the signing of Christopher Nkunku from RB Leipzig, who will move to London at the end of the season, and there is real hope among those in charge at Stamford Bridge that Leao will follow suit.

However, Milan have maintained their optimism in public, with club president Paolo Scaroni insisting he is calm about the future of the reigning Serie A MVP.

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“They tell me that in Milan he is very comfortable, that he is motivated,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I know that [Paolo] Maldini is negotiating with him and as far as I just said: if he negotiates, I’m calm.”

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Talks also remain on between Chelsea and Leipzig over centre-back Josko Gvardiol, who has enjoyed a sensational World Cup and has attracted interest from all across Europe.

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Euros

England will be considered failures if we don’t win Euro 2024

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England defender Harry Maguire has revealed he will head to Euro 2024 with the mindset that anything less than winning the competition will be a failure.

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The Three Lions have cemented their status as a strong tournament team over the last half-decade under the guidance of Gareth Southgate.

After reaching the FIFA World Cup semi-finals in 2018, England were only denied victory at Euro 2020 on penalties against Italy in the final.

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There were high hopes that they could go all the way at the 2022 World Cup over the winter, but were narrowly beaten by reigning champions France in a hard-fought quarter-final.

England kicked off their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a 2-1 win at Italy, and speaking to the press post-match, Maguire revealed his ambitions for glory in Germany next summer.

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“I think for me, at my age as well, 30 years old now, I’m with a mindset of, ‘If we don’t win the tournament, it’s been a failure’,” he said.

“We’ve got to qualify first – I mean it’s a tough group, [but] we’ve come here and got an amazing result.

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“But that’s my mindset. I’ve been at three major tournaments now and I’ve come so close. I believe we have the players to win it. We went into Qatar wanting to win the tournament. So ultimately, when we get knocked out, as a squad we’re disappointed. The performances were good, we kept the most clean sheets at the tournament, we were one of the top goalscorers despite going out in the quarter-final.

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“I’m speaking on behalf of myself but I know from speaking to the other lads as well, they were really pleased that Gareth stayed [on as manager]. We’ve built something as a group and he’s been the leader of it. He’s been the one who’s given us hope and given us belief as a country to be successful in these major tournaments and, for sure, it benefits us for us for him to be in charge.

“These big tournaments are decided on the finest margins. We played really well in the World Cup and ultimately, we got knocked out by a good French team. A French team that we believe we can take on and if we play them ten times, we would give them a good game ten times and probably win more than we lose.

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“However, they’ve proven over the years that they manage to get the job done better than England do. So it’s something that we’re working on. We have so much talent and so many young players coming through.”

Maguire recognised that England were simply beaten at the 2022 World Cup by a more experienced and successful international side in France.

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Despite reservations over Didier Deschamps, the 54-year-old has an incredible tournament record – to have won one final and lost two others is a far better record than most other coaches in the history of football.

England hope to be on a similar path with Southgate, but as Maguire insisted, they need to win a tournament if they’re to be remembered fondly and without tinges of regret.

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EPL

Harry Maguire suggests he isn’t ‘properly appreciated’ at Man Utd

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Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has suggested that he is not as appreciated at club level as he is for England.

Maguire made the switch to the Red Devils for £80m back in 2019 and has since divided opinion after being named the skipper less than a year later. This season, he was quickly dropped by incoming United manager Erik ten Hag in favour of Raphael Varane and summer signing Lisandro Martinez.

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At international level however, the centre-back has been one of England’s most dependable performers under Gareth Southgate, playing a major role in the Three Lions’ deep tournament runs over the last five years.

Maguire started for England in Thursday’s 2-1 win at Italy in Euro 2024 qualifying. He didn’t cover himself in glory for the Azzurri’s goal but stood tall late on to help grind out the victory.

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Speaking to the media post-match, Maguire was asked if he feels ‘properly appreciated’.

“For England, yes, I do,” he replied. “Obviously, last season was difficult for the club, but, listen, I’ve proven myself to Gareth, who works with a wide range of centre backs. He has the choice of all the English centre-backs in the country and I play, every time I’m available, I’ve been in the team.

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“I’m sure if you ask the rest of the lads they know what I bring to the team. I’m 30 years old but I shouldn’t really need to prove myself at this level. I’ve over 50 caps. I’m England’s top-scoring defender.

“I’ve played nearly 200 times for Manchester United, I’ve captained the club for three years now, but I do also understand that when you’re the captain of Manchester United you do come under the most amount of scrutiny. Last season at club level, my performance wasn’t good enough, alongside everybody else at club level, not just myself struggled. Everyone else struggled.”

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Maguire recognises that he has not always been at his best while wearing a United shirt.

He was an easy scapegoat during their dreadful 2021/22 season in which they recorded their lowest ever points tally in the Premier League era.

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That said, Maguire has also failed to kick on and if anything has taken several steps backwards after what was a promising first half to 2021, emerging as one of the league’s leading centre-backs and playing out of his skin while unfit in England’s run to the Euro 2020 final.

His case hasn’t been helped by his outward need silence critics, notably scoring for England and sticking his fingers in his ears as a celebration amid his decline for United.

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EPL

Arsenal lead Rice race; Man Utd eye Ferguson

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90min rounds up the latest transfer news, rumours and gossip circulating around the world…

Arsenal remain ahead of Chelsea in the race to sign Declan Rice from West Ham this summer. The midfielder’s preference is to stay in London amid previous links to Manchester City and Manchester United. (Football Insider)

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New Bayern Munich boss Thomas Tuchel will look to reunite with Chelsea duo Mateo Kovacic and Edouard Mendy when the summer window rolls around. (Calciomercato)

Manchester United are ready to send Amad Diallo back to Sassuolo as part of a bid to sign Italy midfielder Davide Frattesi. (CMW)

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Another player on Manchester United‘s radar is Brighton striker Evan Ferguson. The 18-year-old scored on his debut for the Republic of Ireland earlier this week. (Football Insider)

Liverpool will look to strengthen their defensive ranks with the signing of Dutch defender Perr Schuurs, with current club Torino ready to sell for a fee of €50m. (Tuttosport)

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Ilkay Gundogan is likely to leave Manchester City for Barcelona on a free transfer this summer. His contract expires at the end of the season. (The Athletic)

Real Madrid have joined Barcelona and Liverpool in the race to sign Florian Wirtz from Bayer Leverkusen. (Fabrizio Romano)

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Meanwhile, Celta Vigo midfielder Gabri Veiga would prefer to join Real Madrid over the likes of Barcelona and Manchester United this summer. (Cadena SER)

After failing with a bid last summer, Chelsea are working on another offer to sign Romeo Lavia from Southampton. (Football Insider)

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Arsenal and Newcastle are monitoring Atalanta striker Rasmus Hojland, who grabbed a hat-trick on his international debut for Denmark this week. (Tutto Atalanta)

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