GdS: Leao’s exclusion raises eyebrows as speculation swirls over his future

By Oliver Fisher -

Rafael Leao seems to be drifting away from his previous status as AC Milan’s star man and match-winner, so much so that he was dropped from the starting XI today.

La Gazzetta dello Sport acknowledge that the results do not help the general feeling surrounding the club and above all do not help situations in the balance such as that of the Portuguese winger and his future at the club.

However, if the issue of his contract was slow-moving and difficult when Milan were still in the fight to defend their title as champions, things are not helped by what has been an awful start to 2023 and the battle that awaits just to finish in the top four.

There was some surprise when Stefano Pioli chose to leave Leao out of the line-up with Ante Rebic in his place because Milan are in a position where they need to cling to those who are potentially able to win games. Pioli explained his decision as follows: “It’s a choice dictated by the conditions, Rafa played a lot and lost a bit of brilliance.”

The article mentions that it was a technical choice, but could also disguise a form of ‘punishment due to his attitude in the last few games’. There are two streams of thought: the first is that Leao is an excellent player but he is not a champion yet so he suffers from drops in form as others do, while the second is that it is right to expect more in difficult moments from those with above-average ability.

Leao is struggling on the field and has since scoring against Lecce, and away from the pitch there will no doubt be thoughts swirling around his head about the best road to take for his future. Progress on the contractual situation has now ceased for a few weeks and we have returned to a stalemate, so choices like today certainly don’t help.

Tags AC Milan Rafael Leao


    1. If Leao is reflecting on his future, he should start by reflecting on his own performances and progression in his game or the lack thereof.
      If Pioli is dropping him in this team and in this below average league, imagine if he goes to a top league and a top club where they have 2.3 players for each position. He would be dropped a lot. He would be in for a rude awakening.
      Even the fans at San Siro didn’t care much about him trying to be fancy and cute when he passed the ball back to a defender while his team was down 4-1.
      As I have said before, great athlete, physically gifted, but bellow average football skills and only effective when he has a ton of space in front of him so he can use his athleticism to outrun his opponents.
      Isn’t it funny how much money EPL teams throw on attackers in the last year but no one actually tried to really get Leao besides a verbal offer from Chelsea, who BTW paid a lot more for Mudryk than what they offered for Leao

      1. It’s not Leao’s fault, if the teams keeps conceding, silly goals every match! Leao is no defender.. Tbh, he can’t do much, especially when we are 4-1 down! Leao, can’t be our saviour everytime, especially if we go 2-0 down in the opening, 45 minutes every match.. Letting Kessie, leave and not replacing him, thinking Pobega or Vrancxx will fill his void, was the biggest blunder!

        1. Calm down, i didn’t say it was Leao’s fault.
          You said he is reflecting, well he hasn’t been good either. That’s why I said he needs to do some reflection on his play and his attitude.
          With his team down 4-1, he should at least show that he cares on the field, that he isn’t indifferent to the situation his team is in, instead of trying to be fancy.
          The stadium reacted when they saw him do that.

          1. Yep. Totally understandable reaction as that’s not the attitude fans want to see when trying to get back into the game and things aren’t going well.

    2. Yes, you’re so right. If it was us 12 points ahead of second Leao would have signed already. Not in the summer right after winning the league, but only in January with 1.5 years left in his contract because you have to wait until then to see what the club will be doing two years later when his new five year contract is locked in. Brilliant logic.

      1. By your logic.. He should’ve signed, already last summer, after we won the Scudetto.. Why he haven’t signed yet? Whether he would’ve signed; if we were 12 points clear, of first place, is a hypothesis.. I said that, because this article was published, after 2-5 drubbing by Sassuolo..

  1. Milan needs transfer manager. Who can and know handling players departure, transfer, and contracts handling. We will lose everything on Leao.

  2. We can’t just rely on his brilliance and individual skills. Gone are the days when Milan were completely compact and we could see different goal scorers every match. We rely too much on individuals these days.

  3. Why should it be a “punishment” to drop a player from the starting 11 when the performances have been lacking? That’s how it’s supposed to go! You don’t play well enough, you watch the others play. Then you fight and earn your spot back. NO ONE should have a season ticket to starting lineup. Especially with old merits. He who performs best at the moment should play. No punishments, no favouritism.

  4. To be fair we got more out of Rebic pressing today and he put the ball in the back of the net and was a bit hard done to have it disallowed. Leao NEVER presses. It’s infuriating. He’s not good enough to sashay onto the field and take the game in his hands.

    1. “To be fair we got more out of Rebic pressing today and he put the ball in the back of the net and was a bit hard done to have it disallowed. Leao NEVER presses. It’s infuriating.”


  5. Unfortunately for Milan, Leao renewal fully shown us how Silly the BOSS of Milan is. They should have just gave him an ultimatum of meeting the renewal numbers before world cup or proceed with a sale in Jan. They allowed the whole episode to drag on. The same goes with Poli insistence to play useless fools eg Diaz, Tata, etc. Boss of Milan…. wake up!

  6. Why would he stay? This team will fall back. We don’t want to make investments. We paid 30 for an unproven kid that will take a fee years to develop. Then we bought more kids nobody cares about with thiaw, adli, vranckx, etc. Then we chose to sign messias and not sell ballo toure. I mean what about this year would make a rising star want to stay? We peaked last year a d now the rocky foundation we were built on is cracking. We lost our staples in gigio, Alessio, and kessie and we haven’t replaced them with any quality besides MM16… awful awful awful management. Elliot and Redbird are the worst and I can’t stand that they own Milan..

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