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Everton watching young striker linked with Barcelona and Man City

Lille’s Portuguese Under-21 Rafael Leao is highly regarded by scouts

FC Porto v Lille - Algarve Cup
 LOSC Lille players celebrating a goal
Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

Director of Football Marcel Brands has said more than once that Everton will not be looking for big names, especially at the striker position, this summer and the latest player linked with the Blues is certainly not a big name, yet.

Likened by scouts to Kylian Mbappe, striker Rafael Leão has been turning heads in the French Ligue 1 this season, to the extent that both Barcelona and Manchester City have been casting their gaze at the 19-year-old currently plying his trade for LOSC Lille.

The teenager was just signed at the beginning of this season from Sporting CP in Portugal, and has already racked up seven goals and two assists in 21 appearances for the French side that played Everton in the preseason Algarve Cup.

The previous season he was one of the stars of the UEFA Youth League, scoring five goals and three assists in just six games against more illustrious opponents like Barcelona and Juventus. The lanky forward ended up with 13 goals and 5 assists in 22 total appearances.

Leao has 41 youth international caps at different levels for Portugal, and is widely considered a breakout candidate in the coming seasons.

Here’s an excerpt from an excellent scouting report done on the player by ESDF Analysis -

At such a young age, it seems that Rafael Leao has already mastered the art of attacking the space. Even at 188cm, the Portugal youth player possesses great pace for someone so tall, which has terrorised the best of defences at youth level.

It’s clear that Leao likes to be on the shoulder of the last defender before attacking the space, which is something he does extremely well.

Alongside exploiting the space against a high line, Leao is also capable of dropping deep, causing defences just as many problems. Even at a young age, Leao possesses movement like that of Sergio Aguero et al.

The Daily Mail report adds that Brands’ shopping list this summer will be for ‘two strikers, full backs, a centre back, midfielder and back-up goalkeeper’, with the Blues likely to looking at younger players in most if not all of those positions.

If the Blues indeed bring in two strikers, it’ll provide competition for Dominic Calvert-Lewin while almost certainly ensuring the departure of Cenk Tosun who has struggled to find playing time this season.