CM: Wasteful Leao shows he is not yet at world-class level

By Oliver Fisher -

The goalless draw against Newcastle brings several indications for Milan and there are certainly some positive ones, but the spotlight is on Rafael Leao for the wrong reasons. write how the clean sheet, Yunus Musah’s positive performance and the number of opportunities created were all plus points, but the failure to win makes qualifying more difficult, the lack of precision in front of goal returned and Leão’s attitude was questionable.

The match against Newcastle could and should have turned in the first half when Leão beat two opponents in the penalty area, creating space to shoot, but he took one touch more than he should have before trying a back heel instead of hitting it on his right foot.

Leao’s numbers continue to get better season by season, but the feeling is that he could be extraordinary if only he maintained that malice in front of goal, which are fundamental to truly become a top player on a world level.

A missed chance is part and parcel of being a forward that is constantly involved in the game, that much is true, but what isn’t acceptable is the attitude shown in the second half.

He showed little desire to put in the defensive work rate required, and showed disapproval towards any team-mate guilty of having misplaced a pass.

Leão knows that now he must become a leader of this team and any maturation process also involves phases like this. If Milan are to go further in the Champions League, they need more.

Tags AC Milan Rafael Leao


  1. If Rafa thinks he is a leader in this team, then he needs to act like one. Tbh, he looks knackered after one of his runs (which normally leads to a misplaced pass 7 times out of 10) – only tracks back when it suits him and throws his toys out of the pram when things don’t go his way. Sorry, that’s not a leader. He’s not a boy anymore; he needs to put his big boy pants on for this party..

    1. What? Messi did not track back once in his entire career. 0. If you have a player like that you maybe place a more defensive minded midfielder on his side, to cover a bit. You don’t play Theo and Reijnders on that side. Yes, he can track back more, but the choice of player to play behind him is baffling for me.

      1. Barcelona literally got Rakitic for that and he was supposed to stay back and cover for Messi. It worked perfectly while Rakitic didn’t get older and much slower.

      2. Messi is streets ahead of Leao, still. And although he played with quality teams that had star players to back him up (so I agree with your comment there), he can still carry a weaker team (witness what he is doing now).

        1. He is playing in MLS. Carlos Vela looked like Ronaldinho there, in Europe he was useless most of the time. You have to be serious and consider the whole league is a laugh compared to Europe. So…

          Now back to the real topic, not Messi in retiree and semi good south Americans league. If you have a player that can dribble past 2-5 players, can create havoc, you don’t play 2 OFFENSIVE player behind him and expect something else. I think that is pretty straightforward.

      3. “What? Messi did not track back once in his entire career.”

        What? So we’re comparing Leao to Messi now? LOL! What’s next? Thiaw to Nesta? Bartesaghi to Maldini? 😀 😀 😀 😀

        1. It is an example of how you use a player. Your first thing is to ridicule everything at first just because you really don’t know anything. I haven’t seen a single sentence with any real substance in it, ever. Only stupidity. Usually beyond stupid sarcasm.

          1. I love your 100% accurate, in-depth analysis. Keep up the good work! 😀 😀 😀

            “I haven’t seen a single sentence with any real substance in it, ever. ”

            I think you made a typo there. You wrote “seen” instead of “written”. But that’s OK. No one really cares what you write anyway. Comparing Leao to Messi… Jesus Christ. 😀 😀 😀

            PS. At least I’m not so embarrassed of my own texts that I’d change my nickname here every now and then. 😉

          2. He’s right. Every player has a limited amount of energy they can spend throughout the game. It’s a question of how much do you want your best offensive player to expend tracking back defensively vs using it for attacking purposes. The idea in today’s game that every player must cover the entire pitch is ridiculous. You want certain players to expend most of their energy on the offensive side and others on the defensive side. Obviously midfielders need to do both but their is too much focus on how much offensive players track back.

      4. Messi is a once in a generation talent. Sorry there’s no comparison here. Leao is nowhere near Messi. Of course if Messi doesnt want to defend you just have to live with that as a coach and find a workaround because he’s MESSI and he always delivers. Leao hasn’t reached that level as yet and I don’t think he will. That’s not to say he isn’t good but Messi is on another level that’s reserved for like maybe only 5 players in the history of the game. And I don’t even like Messi’s that much lol but i respect his game. Him and CR7 were a once in several generations kinda thing buddy.

    1. He won the title on his own basically, at least 75% of it was him. People forget that quickly. Also last years CL, when things didn’t work you’d give the ball to Leao and something happened.

      1. We won the scudetto 75% because Leao? Are you joking? 21G/A from 69 Goals we scored and dont forget the defense that has been solid that season, which i can said Leao has very very very little part in that

    2. But that’s the problem, we are lacking a real leader on the field. And Leao will never be that. It’s just not in his personality.

  2. Heeey! You shouldn’t criticize Leao! People WILL get sad – and angry. No matter whether the critique is valid or not. I know a name or two who won’t be sleeping next night because of this article.

  3. Ofc he’s not, only deluded fans think he is a WC, he has a talent but his attitude is the main problem, being arrogant saying serie A is easy, and look at how lazy he was after that circus show he didnt quickly stand up but keep laying there like a dumbass, that was annoyed tf out of me really.

  4. World class means at the very least you can control the ball. Leao cannot control high balls. Therefore he cannot be world class. He can score yes, he can assist yes. Even so, his numbers arent super spectacular, just good. But he needs lots of work on his ball control.

  5. Rafa is not consistent and I don’t think he will play a role of a leader anytime soon, he lacks decipline, he needs to be benched for a few game’s to remind him of the objective

    Which is to play as a team and win as a team

  6. Cut it out with all the BS talk about Leao and his back heel. Seriously. ALL great players (and even less-than-great) players have had forgettable moments. So what? Had that backheel gone in, he would have been praised as a magician. Instead now he’s being roasted for it?

    You have on games and you have off games… Live & Learn and move on. The path to greatness isn’t smooth. Sometimes you stumble. And Leao will occasionally stumble while he carries this team forward.


  7. Leao alone cannot make the team click. This is not MLS or Ligue 1. He needs better forwards who can link up play with him. When he is racing forward, Giroud is on the half-way line. Milan need to buy a better centre forward who can at least run. So how do you expect him to be word class?

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