CM: Leao suffering three-month league goal drought – Milan need their leader back

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan have once again found themselves in a difficult moment after the draw against Salernitana, and in order to drag themselves out of it they need Rafael Leao back in the goals.

As recall, Leao’s goal against PSG in the Champions League and his man of the match performance showed exactly what he is capable of, but the last match against Salernitana was the worst version of the Portuguese winger.

He was unable to make an impact and looked increasingly on edge as the minutes passed, which is not what either Leao or Milan expected after the star turn of the summer, after the renewal which made him the highest paid player in the team.

The start of this season was positive, with three goals and two assists in the first five games in Serie A (two assists against Torino, goals against Roma, Inter and Verona), marred only by the gross error with the heel against Newcastle in the Champions League.

However, that goal against Hellas Verona on 23 November was his last in Serie A, meaning he has had a three-month long fast with just three assists amassed from that day onwards (two against Lazio on 30 September, one against Monza on 17 December) and the goal in the UCL against PSG.

With three goals in the league, he is level with centre-back Fikayo Tomori as well as the reserves Luka Jovic and Noah Okafor. Leao has never been a goal machine, his role on the pitch does not require him to be one on a permanent basis, and his performance is in line with what he did in previous seasons with the Rossoneri.

Only in 2019-20 was he on less goals than he is now, given in that season he scored one league goal between August and December. He had scored four goals between Serie A and European competitions in 2020-21, in the Scudetto season he had five and last season the number was seven.

An avalanche of goals is not expected, but Milan legitimately hopes for a more important scoring contribution to be able to get themselves out of a hole. Factors such as spending a month out due to a muscle injury did not help, yet Milan need their leader back.

The obvious tactical limitations shown by Stefano Pioli’s Milan in the last period don’t help either. The Leao-Theo Hernandez combination on the left side was considered the best in Serie A and among the best in Europe, today there is no longer any trace of those combinations, apart from the Frenchman’s shift to the center of defence in the emergency situation.

Something has been lost and in moments of difficulty during matches the complex tactical schemes disappear, the ball goes to the isolated Leao – who most of the time he is double or triple-teamed – in the hope that his dribbling can generate something useful.


Tags AC Milan Rafael Leao


  1. Leao was never a leader.

    He has never taken on that mantle.

    One of the most destructive players on the planet? Yes.

    A leader? When did that happen?

  2. “An avalanche of goals is not expected, but Milan legitimately hopes for a more important scoring contribution to be able to get themselves out of a hole. ”

    A legit question is: If he doesn’t provide goals and/or assists, what is he good for? Working ethics? Defending? Lifting the team spirit? Playing for the team? Or just making cr*ppy music?

    PS. Of course the fanbois will jump in to defend and say “Leao creates but it’s the others’ fault they don’t score”. Yeah. The same excuse Messi always uses, right? No wait, he performs where ever he plays with whom ever he plays with. Same goes for the almost 40-year-old CR7.

  3. Damn with words like suffer, 3 months, my first thought was another injury.

    And yes, Leao was never a leader. Some players are just not made that way. However talented and gifted they are.

  4. Leao will always be hot & cold. But this just speaks to the limitations of this roster. Our best option is a mercurial player. Who are the other more consistent difference makers?

    Problem is, you won’t always sign difference makers for 15-20mil. What did we spend on Leao? 40mil?

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