Leonardo: No Chelsea contact over Higuain

Reports in Italy have claimed Gonzalo Higuain has agreed a move to Chelsea, but Leonardo has quashed such talk.

AC Milan's Gonzalo Higuain   -  Getty Images

AC Milan has received no contact from Chelsea over Gonzalo Higuain amid speculation he could leave the club, according to sporting director Leonardo.

Higuain is in the midst of a dismal run of form, having failed to score in his last nine games.

Milan signed Higuain on a season-long loan from Juventus in August, the Rossoneri can make the deal permanent by exercising a €36million option.

However, reports in Italy have claimed Higuain has agreed to move to Chelsea and renew acquaintances with Maurizio Sarri, for whom he scored a Serie A record 36 goals during their time together at Napoli in 2015-16.

Dismissing those claims, Leonardo told Sky Sport Italia: "It's difficult for a striker when he doesn't score, and he also needs to find himself because he's in a delicate situation, out on loan from Juve.

"Our relationship with him is very direct, he has an important role for us and he knows that. He has a leadership role, because he's won so much.

"We've never had doubts about Higuain, we've never questioned his position in this year: nothing has changed.

"Chelsea or no Chelsea, there's been no offer for him. No-one has asked us about him and he hasn't asked to leave.

"He's a Juventus player, we have an option at the end of the year. There's nothing else to say. He needs to assume his responsibility and do it on the pitch."

Higuain, Gattuso to stay

Asked about reports that Gennaro Gattuso could be sacked as coach if Milan, which is winless in five games, fails to earn a positive result against SPAL on Saturday, Leonardo said: "We've never thought about changing Gattuso.

"There is no plan to change him but we expect the team can have a positive shock against SPAL. No other coaches have been contacted from Milan."

Gattuso echoed Leonardo's sentiments regarding Higuain in his pre-match media conference. He told reporters: "I want to see the Higuain of the second half [of the 0-0 draw] against Frosinone - that's Higuain. He beat his man, he had chances and then he got things slightly wrong when shooting.

"He's struggled a bit after the missed penalty and red card against Juve. I don't want to hear talk about a sale, it's up to the club and his entourage.

"As long as he stays here we'll need him.

"This year he's dribbling more than last year, he's had the same number of touches, but what's lacking is a goal.

"After the red card there was the sensation that he wasn't good on a physical level, but that's not the case, he's fine.

"I think he'll stay here, if the opposite happens then I'll have made a mistake but from what's been said I think he'll stay here."