Leao hints at Pioli to try two up front; praises ‘big brother’ Ibrahimovic and reveals preferred role

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan forward Rafael Leao has revealed that he has already established a ‘brotherly’ relationship with new signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The return of the Swede was announced late in December and he was officially unveiled earlier this month, making his second debut for the club coming off the bench on Monday’s 0-0 draw against Sampdoria.

While the result was not the one which was desired, there was some encouraging link up play between Ibrahimovic and Leao, who was also substituted on to try and help the Rossoneri crack Claudio Ranieri’s side.

The latest from Sky Italia suggests that Pioli tested a two-striker system in Thursday’s session, with Suso and Giacomo Bonaventura excluded from the XI. Samu Castillejo and Hakan Calhanoglu were trialled out wide, with a Leao-Ibra pairing up top.

The former Lille man has given an interview to Sky talking about his relationship with Zlatan and goals for the rest of the season, both from a team and an individual point of view.

“For me Zlatan is an older brother. Since he arrived he has started talking to me, giving me advice on how to improve, on how to stay in the area,” he said (via MilanNews.it).

“For me it is a great thing, because he is a great player and I want to learn as much as possible with him next to me. I think he will help us to change things, to win games, because with him the chances of success increase.

“We are Milan, we must return to the Champions League or Europa League, because Milan deserves this”

On his season so far: “I haven’t played much, but Pioli is a good coach and he is giving me a lot of confidence in myself. When he puts me on the pitch I will show him what I am able to do.

“I can play in all the attacking roles: center-forward or outside. I prefer center-forward, because this way I move closer to the area and I have more chances to score.

“In training I played both with Ibra and with Piatek. We did well together, we are comfortable and we understand each other. I don’t know if we will play like this, but if the coach will opt for the two strikers maybe we will have more opportunities to score.”

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Tags AC Milan Rafael Leao Zlatan Ibrahimovic
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