GdS: Why Leao and the other internationals will return to Milanello full of confidence

By Oliver Fisher -

Various AC Milan stars have been shining over the international break and Rafael Leao is certainly among them. Now, he wants to end the season in the best possible way.

La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below) write that Leao returned to work at Milanello yesterday, fresher and more rested than Stefano Pioli could have imagined. The head coach of Portugal, Roberto Martinez, released him after he scored against Sweden.

Yesterday it was also the turn of Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah, who returned from the other side of the world with a CONCACAF Nations League winners medal in their pocket.

Today the puzzle will be completed and the training complex is expected to be full. Those who were with the national team will join those who were already there, meaning preparation for the trip to Florence on Saturday will come to life with an almost complete squad.

Rafa 200

The friendly match against Sweden brought Leao back to Milan with even more confidence: the goal that opened the proceedings in the 5-2 win over the Scandinavians is his fourth in the last seven matches, to which three assists must be added.

It is a completely different story compared to the previous months. Leao has found his aim again in front of goal, without losing creativity. His influence in the national team is growing hand in hand with his influence at Milan, which is ideal now that the season is about to pass a crucial point.

On Saturday Leao will play his 200th match for the Rossoneri and will try to celebrate against a ‘special’ opponent. Against Fiorentina he scored the first of 53 goals as a Milan player, in September 2019, and then repeated it in May 2022, in the Scudetto run-in.

Goals and trophies

Rafa will duet with Giroud and Pulisic, who will be at least as enthusiastic as him. The American, as captain, raised the third CONCACAF Nations League trophy in his career and underlined the impact of the Milan factor.

“I have found confidence again and I am happy. I never thought I’d feel so comfortable on the right, but I have to admit that I’ve learned a lot, my way of playing has changed and I’ve found new ways to get into the area and score,” he said.

Giroud, in the friendly against Chile, resumed his scoring streak by breaking a drought that had lasted since the beginning of March (Slavia Praha, first leg of the Europa League round of 16). More than for the goals, his name these days bounces between two continents because he will head to Los Angeles FC in the summer.

However, Milan today remains his first thought, and so it will be until May: Giroud wants to end his love story with the Rossoneri in style and the objective is to drag them further, because he wants to say goodbye with another trophy, namely the Europa League that is missing from the club’s trophy cabinet.

While Giroud scored, Theo Hernandez got an assist for Randal Kolo Muani home, updating his national team CV to two goals and nine assists. Pioli will not be able to field him in Florence due to suspension, but he will logically focus on his runs in the following matches.

Reijnders excels

Pioli has a wealth of options and choice in the middle, from Yacine Adli to Ismael Bennacer and Yunus Musah.

Reijnders was untouchable for half a season and now the coach manages him, also because the Netherlands are also squeezing him.

During the break Reijnders played two games in four days, starting on both occasions, and he scored against Scotland the first goal in the Orange.

The coach Koeman said ‘he has become great’. Milan, in the next month, needs people like this.


Tags AC Milan Rafael Leao
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