Rafael Leao: Moving Forward



In keeping with their promise to invest in promising, talented young players who would stay at Milan for a long time, the club have invested in 20-year-old striker Rafael Leao. Despite their quest for other forwards this transfer market, they stepped up in the market and believed in the young Portuguese player and invested €28m plus selling Tiago Djalo to Lille in order to make this deal happen. Whatever else you could criticize about this management, it definitely seems like they are moving forward.

Milan's future?

Born Rafael Alexandre Conceicao Leao, he grew up in Sporting Lisbon’s youth system. After making 12 appearances with the reserve team and scoring seven goals in those matches, he was called up for the first team for three appearances, scoring one goal. However, there was an incident in which the players and staff were attacked during a training, and Leao terminated his contract with Sporting because of this, making him a free agent. So last summer, he signed for Lille, and made 24 appearances, scoring eight goals.

When Milan came calling, he accepted because of Milan’s commitment to young players. In his press conference yesterday, he said that it was “a dream to be here,” and that “they showed that they really want me and that they strongly believe in me, and for a young player like me, that is the most important thing. Ironically, former Sporting reserve teammate, Tiago Djalo, whom Milan had brought in only seven months ago, went the other way, joining Lille for a fee of only €5m.

Representing Portugal's youth teams

For a player so young, he carries a lot on his shoulders, having been compared to Mbappe, and Ronaldo. He does not like the comparisons, and admits that he has a lot to improve upon. He is wary of the tactical difficulties in Serie A and confesses that he needs to improve on his finishing. However, he is very powerful, and at 6’2” (1.88m) tall, he provides an aerial threat up front that Milan have been lacking. He can play as a center forward or a second striker, and said that he loves to provide assists, too.

One of my favorite things we’ve learned about him so far is about his trademark goal celebration, where he looks as though he’s calling someone on the phone. It came about because his dad couldn’t always come to his matches, so he created the celebration as if he was calling his dad to tell him that he scored a goal. In an age where people like to turn the attention all to themselves, it’s refreshing to know that when he scores, he thinks of his family.

A family oriented celebration while playing at Lille

It is always difficult to tell whether youth players are the real deal. It’s hard to know if a player like Leao, who has represented Portugal at every level from U16 through the U21 teams, will come good or not. But his attitude is very good, he seems humble and wanting to work hard, and he is proud to be at a club like Milan. We’ve really only seen a few minutes of him so far in the Milan jersey, so it’s hard to tell much at this point. But it definitely seems like with a purchase like this, Milan are moving forward.


This post inspired by the music of Temple of the Dog’s “Pushin Forward Back”


Our next match is
Serie A Week 1
Udinese vs. Milan
Sunday, August 25 • 18:00 CEST (12noon EDT)

Rafael Leao: Moving Forward Rafael Leao: Moving Forward Reviewed by Elaine on 11:08 PM Rating: 5
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