Leao states that ‘my future is at Milan’ and Ibrahimovic ‘raised my level a lot’

By Euan Burns -

AC Milan forward Rafael Leao has pledged his loyalty to the club amidst recent transfer speculation and discussed the impact that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has had on his game.

Speaking during a long interview with Corriere della Sera (via Milan News), the Portuguese star spoke in depth about his trademark smile, where he sees his future in the game, and how various figures at Milan have helped him during his career.

Leao has recently published a book entitled ‘Smile’, and there are numerous great photos of Leao with a beaming smile after scoring a goal for the Rossoneri.

When asked about his smile, he said: “There are people who don’t have water to drink. When you can walk, you have food, maybe you have someone who loves you, life is a ‘smile’. I have everything, I have even more, God gave me a gift and I am grateful to him. My job is to play football, I have fulfilled my childhood dream. How could I not smile? Football is the joy of children playing in the streets, all over the world.”

Leao has long been linked with a move away from the club, most recently to Paris Saint-Germain to be Kylian Mbappe’s replacement. Since signing a new contract, it has felt less likely that the forward will be on the move, and he has backed that up by stressing how committed he is to the club.

My future is at AC Milan. I am here and I still have a four-year contract. Milan helped me when I was in a very difficult situation, they were close to me. I don’t forget, I am loyal. I arrived as a young boy, here I have grown as a man and as a footballer. I want to win again, my head is here,” he said.

Milan’s only chance of a trophy this season is in the Europa League and Leao had his say on the competition: “There are many strong teams, but we have a clear idea in our heads: to get to the final and win.”

Leao and Ibrahimovic had a close relationship in the latter’s playing days and that has continued now that the former striker is an advisor at the club.

He has raised my level so much. He talks to me about everything, not just football. I needed him, he helped me not only as a footballer but also as a man. He is very important to me. He was when he played, he is now,” Leao said.

Relationship with Gerry Cardinale and Giorgio Furlani

We don’t see each other often, but he loves me, he helps me. He even gave me his phone number, but I’ve never called him, I don’t want to disturb him. CEO Giorgio Furlani is also very close to me, he also speaks to me in Portuguese. Great person.”

A joke for Pioli

“What does he keep saying to me? That I’m always the last there and that’s true.”

On criticism

“Criticism always charges me. Sometimes they make me angry, but only if they are not constructive. I’m sorry if it is only to provoke me. I often ask myself: does this guy understand football? I am emotional, even if I don’t show it. However, these things make me stronger. I know where I can go.”

On scoring great goals

I love nice goals. Of course, I always want to score more. But I make assists, I am complete. Football today is just statistics, figures. And I don’t like that. Football is magic, joy. It makes me angry that people only think about numbers. If you have a bad game, but then you score, they say ‘wow’. I’m not like that. Because people have to have fun. Then I have to have fun too. I’m for beauty. Aesthetics. In football, as in fashion and music. As in love.”

Post-football plans

“For sure when I stop playing I won’t stay in football. I’ve been in this environment for ten years already, I’ve had so many experiences. I want to take away that kind of stress and dedicate myself to my family and my other passions.”

His faith

I am a believer, Catholic, although some people thought I was Muslim, perhaps because of the colour of my skin and my African origins. I used to always go to Mass on Sundays, now I find it harder because there are matches. Prayer is part of my life.”

On racism in football

On social media and elsewhere there are people like that, unfortunately, and this is a problem. Racists often don’t even realise they are racists. Racism is everywhere, unfortunately. That’s why we footballers have to try to do something, because we have so much popularity. We have to harness this strength, sending out messages. Milan is very sensitive to this issue. Even in the Maignan affair in Udine it was seen. We did well to behave like this, it’s right to leave the field.”

Tags AC Milan Rafael Leao


  1. “I am complete”

    And there’s the problem. As soon as one thinks that it’s over. The progress ends there. There is always room for improvement and no one is complete. Ask Messi. Ask Zlatan. Ask Maldini.

  2. Leao, unaware, is exposing himself in this interview and proving the critics right.
    People call him lazy and criticize his lack of development. What did he say to prove them right?

    A joke for Pioli

    “What does he keep saying to me? That I’m always the last there and that’s true.”

    He IS last in training. His words, not media and critics, false narratives. He IS probably the first one out. And then you wonder why he isn’t improving.

    People criticize his mentality.
    He says he doesn’t like that football today is all about statistics and numbers.
    Only a player that has poor numbers would say that.
    Football and sport in general have always been about numbers. You literally have to have a higher number next to your name at the end of the game to win the game. You have to have more points than the rest of the teams at the end of the season to be a winner.
    He is talking about beauty and joy. Yeah, that sounds cute, but it needs to go hand in hand with numbers, or you might as well play football as a hobby.
    This is not a winners mentality. Doesn’t mean that Leao needs to be sold, but it definitely means that if Milan wants to be a winning club, they need to find another player to build their team around. Player with the right winning mentality. While Leao can be, just like the rest of the squad, part of the supporting cast.
    You want Milan to be back on top, Leao cannot be your best player.

    1. That attitude shows on the pitch when the game isn’t going as planned too. Some people do whatever it takes to get Milan back into the game and some just smile awkwardly and focus on the things that are going to happen after the match. No need to say which of the two types Leao is as we all know it already. The latter ones cannot be the leaders or the main focus of a project that aims to win trophies.

      Look at the attitude of Giroud, Calabria, Pulisic, Adli… Those type of players should lead the pack. Those will not quit when things get tough.

    2. Imo it’s a bit of both. He’s the best for us but can also do much better. He’s still at an age where ppl can say “potential”. And get a pass for it. Eventually he needs to show more tangible results. But I think he needs to do better, specifically his technique (which includes shooting ofc and ball control).

    3. what if its ‘the last there’ as the last to leave traning? I interpreted the joke that way. Not even a joke tho.

      A joke would be ‘what does he keep saying to me?’. Dai Rafa, dai.

      Thats a joke

      1. Leao? Last to leave the training? It seems to be YOU who is joking here. He’s too anxious to leave to the studio and will be the first out the door.

  3. Keep smiling, be happy and enjoy life, continue being grateful, many people no longer know how to be happy and smile

Comments are closed

Serie A Standings

Live football scores . Current table, fixtures & results.