Italian giants AC Milan have confirmed the signing of Lille forward Rafael Leão in a deal worth €35m plus bonuses and Tiago Djalò, with the Portuguese agreeing a 5-year contract at San Siro.
Leão completed his medical in Milan on Wednesday and has put pen to paper on a contract worth an estimated annual salary of €3.5m for the former Sporting youngster, who leaves Lille after just one season in France.
The 20-year-old arrived at Lille last summer having terminated his contract with Sporting after an attack by fans at the club’s training ground. During his time in France Leão scored 8 goals from 24 appearances, catching the eye as Christophe Gaultier’s side surprised many by finishing runners-up to Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1.
Leão’s form last term led to much speculation over a possible move this summer, with Valencia, Napoli and Everton all linked with the Portugal U21 international. However, Milan won the race for his signature after agreeing a fee of €35m and including a clause for Lille to received a percentage of any future sale. 19-year-old defender Tiago Djalò, formerly of Sporting, heads to Lille on a permanent transfer as part of the agreement.
"It is with great sadness that I say goodbye to this great club that welcomed me with open arms while in a difficult situation,” Leão wrote on his Instagram account. “Where I have been given the opportunity to show my football. I will support you wherever you are because I will have this club in my heart. Thank you to everyone at the club and to the supporters who supported me from the start. I hope they will surprise the world on their return to the Champions League, as we did in last season's championship.”
Leão arrives at San Siro with fellow Portuguese striker André Silva still with the club following the collapse of his move to Monaco. Previous compatriots to have represented the Rossoneri include Rui Costa and Paulo Futre, while international defender Ricardo Ferreira, more recently of Braga, developed in the club’s academy.
Sporting responded to the announcement by releasing a statement indicating they will be seeking FIFA’s assistance in claiming compensation from Lille due to the ‘illegal’ obtaining of the player’s rights last summer, and asserting that “offenders should not benefit” from the incident.
By Sean Gillen