Rafael Leao is without doubt one of the best players in Serie A and among the best wingers in the world, yet this doesn’t seem to be obvious yet on the European stage.
As Calciomercato.com report, Leao is among the current poster boys of Italian football and he is the brightest star of a Milan side who were Italian champions in 2022 and Champions League semi-finalists last season.
Yet this does not seem to be the same if we broaden this to a continent-wide view, in particular the France Football nominees for the Ballon d’Or. Leao was in fact not included in the list of the 30 best players who made the shortlist.
He was included last season and placed 13th, but despite performing better in 2022-23 he was not present this time around. Neither was Theo Hernandez (World Cup finalist) but also Neymar, Mané, Courtois, Rodrygo and many others.
Including PSG’s new big-money signing Randal Kolo Muani and excluding Leao could be a nod to the fact ‘France’ football are catering to their market.
What about Leao’s value? Milan made him the highest paid player in the squad with his renewal and inserted a release clause of €150m. However, that offer from Chelsea of €100m two years ago – rejected by the Rossoneri – was the only concrete bid received.
Chelsea are therefore the only club that went beyond simple admiration. Milan’s inclusion of such a high release clause show how highly they value him, but this season – even more than last – will be the most important one for his growth and his appeal on a global level.
Leao is still dragging the Rossoneri towards important goals in Italy, but above all in the Champions League where all eyes will be on him.