Rafael Leao has responded to Milan’s critics by insisting the team are ‘no less strong’ despite recent struggles, and commented on his favoured position again.
Multiple reports are suggesting that Leao will start as the centre-forward during tomorrow night’s Europa League Round of 32 second leg against Red Star, a position he has not played for a while but one in which he has had varying degrees of success.
With Mario Mandzukic currently nursing a muscle problem and Zlatan Ibrahimovic allowed to rest given the important games on the horizon, the Portuguese forward will lead the line and hope he can fire his side into the last 16.
Leao spoke at the pre-match press conference live on the eve of the game, with his comments transcribed by MilanNews and translated below.
How important is it to get through?
“Every match is important. We are Milan and we enter the field to win. Tomorrow we want to win and try to move forward in this competition.”
What changes when playing from striker to other positions you’ve played in? Do you feel comfortable in this position?
“The position does not matter to me. I want to give my all for the team and help them. If it is possible to make an assists or a goal it is positive but the most important thing is to win.”
There has been a lot of criticism after Milan’s last games. What is your answer?
“We are no less strong for our latest results. We work hard to make our matches and that’s what we want to show tomorrow.”
You have grown a lot thanks to the help of Pioli. Where do you think you can improve further and what do you fear about tomorrow’s opponent?
“I have to thank Pioli who gives me confidence every day as well as my team-mates. I always try to listen to everyone and help the team with what I can do.”
How is the team doing and can this second part of the season be important for your consecration?
“We are fine and face the days with our heads held high. We know that we have not done well in the last few games but we want to react and we have looked at our mistakes.”
Is there still enthusiasm after the latest results and do you still think you can fight for great goals?
“Yes. We are very young but the staff gives us the confidence to enter the field with confidence. We want to show our talent and honour this shirt. We are calm and we want to take advantage of the opportunities.”
How much do you feel improved and how much did Ibrahimovic help you?
“This year I feel much better than last year. As I have always said, Ibra is like an older brother for us who teaches us a lot and his most important characteristic is his mentality. We are stronger with him.”