Chelsea are said to be “sensing an opportunity” to cross £70million AC Milan star Rafael Leao off their shortlist to instead add to their list of permanent transfers.

That is according to journalist Simon Phillips who understands that Leao is “on the shortlist” as Graham Potter gets set to navigate the side through his first transfer window at the club.

With Armando Broja suffering a season-ending injury earlier this month, Phillips believes that Chelsea could look to strike a deal for the star in January, rather than sticking to the original plan of biding their time until the end of the season.

Asked about Chelsea’s targets going into the winter window next month, Phillips told GIVEMESPORT: “One of them on the shortlist is obviously Rafael Leao.

“I think the intention there was to try and get him in during the summer but, at the moment, they’re sensing an opportunity due to his contract situation.”

Now is the time

With Broja’s long-term injury occurring in what is a massive blow to the side, it renders 33-year-old Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang as the only out-and-out striker in the side.

And that is not the only problem.

Whilst Leao has the versatility to function up top centrally, he’s an asset who specialises in cutting in from the wide-left position – a movement that has brought him great success in the form of 11 goals in the Serie A last season.

But, his ability as a creator is what will appeal to Chelsea, besides of course his nous in delivering direct attacking contributions.

23-year-old Leao led the way for assists in Milan last season, totalling a respectable haul of eight, with a further of 45 chances created in the league.

Fast forward to this season and the star is putting up even better numbers.

Six goals and four assists see him lead proceedings at Milan, just pipping World Cup hero Olivier Giroud’s tally for both metrics.

But, importantly for Chelsea, Leao is on track to beat his tally of 45 chances created, having already mustered up 23 chances in the Serie A.

Having created just 17 big chances this season, the Blues are in desperate need of a burst of attacking threat, which is where Portugal’s World Cup star Leao comes in.

The club are right to pursue the Milan talisman earlier than anticipated, with a January coup big enough to be season-changing for Potter’s side.