Journalist implores Leao to prove he is a ‘symbol’ and a ‘leader’ of the ‘new Milan’

By Oliver Fisher -

While a lot of the attention will be on the new signings and how they get on, Rafael Leao faces the ‘most important exam’ of any player according to Alberto Cerruti.

Towards the end of last season Leao put pen to paper on a contract extension until June 2028, resolving his long-term future and also establishing himself as the highest paid player in the squad, as his numbers reflect he should be.

Now, Leao must take another step forward in terms of maturity and consistency, as he has done throughout each of his seasons at Milan.

He spoke in a recent interview about feeling like one of the more senior squad members given he has been at the club for four seasons, revealing that he is helping new signings settle in.

The journalist Alberto Cerruti has written a column for in which he has outlined the added responsibility that Leao has to show he is a leader of the team.

“New signings are automatically ‘hit’ for any team and the more they arrive, the more the enthusiasm of the fans grows. It has always been like this, even if the so-called ‘Scudetto on the transfer market’ is often not followed by the real title that is awarded the following spring,” he said.

“It happened at Moratti’s Inter who deluded themselves of winning when they took on the ‘real Ronaldo’, while to stay at Milan it happened at the time of the Fassone-Mirabelli couple and those of a year ago when Maldini and Massara presented the promising De Ketelaere, together with his compatriot Origi.

“Turning the subject around, Milan two seasons ago and Napoli in the last one celebrated an unexpected Scudetto in the previous summer when the transfer campaign hadn’t excited the fans.

“The enthusiasm that accompanied all the incoming operations of the very active Furlani and Moncada is more than legitimate, therefore, even if only the field will give a definitive judgment.

“While waiting to know which, and above all how many, of the new signings will prove to be important reinforcements for the new Milan, Pioli already knows he can count on a certainty that has a name, a surname and a number: Rafael Leao, with the number 10.

“The questions that surrounded his arrival in 2019 have now in fact turned into as many fixed points, because his growth is witnessed by the numbers that in some cases do not deceive, such as those on ball possession.

“Remembering, to believe, the parallel increase in his league appearances and goals: 25-3 in 2019-2020; 30-6 in 2020-2021; 34-11 in 2021-2022; 35-15 in the last one in which he was also the team’s top scorer.

“A Scudetto and a semi-final of the Champions League are already important results, but Leao wants more and it is no coincidence that he has chosen to wear the number 10 shirt left against his will by Brahim Diaz.

“A decision that is anything but obvious, both because Leao remains a winger and above all because the number 10 for the history of Milan has been the symbol of great champions, from Gianni Rivera to Ruud Gullit, two Ballon d’Or winners who have won everything in Italy, in Europe and in the world.

“A sign of personality that in his case must rhyme with consistency, because this is Leao’s only limit, devastating when he turns on his turbo but not always consistent.

“It is a matter of mentality, rather than legs, because Leao has already shown that he can be the guide for new signings, helping them on and off the pitch to understand the Milan world.

“Giroud has already experimented and exploited his assists and now it will be the turn of his first alternative Okafor , the striker who was missing, after Ibrahimovic’s farewell, to add the necessary roast to a transfer campaign up to last week full of midfielders but without a back-up centre-forward.

“Time will tell if the Swiss will really be able to be the indispensable assistant to Giroud, or if he will be more inclined to vary on the wing by playing as a possible second striker.

“No doubts, however, about the qualities of the latest signing, the Nigerian Samuel Chukwueze, 24 years old like Leao, but above all an arrow on the wing like the Portuguese, a ‘missile’ as he was defined in Spain, where he shone in Villarreal.

“It is no coincidence that he was the most expensive purchase of all, costing twenty million plus bonuses, the reinforcement on the right that promises to put on a show, allowing Milan not to hang only on the left.

“And if this is indeed the case, Pioli will have a double advantage because all the attention of the opposing defenders will not be directed only to Leao, while he will be able to prove that he is the leader of the team with his new number 10 shirt, more than ever a symbol of a new Milan stronger and hungrier.”

Tags AC Milan Rafael Leao


  1. So basically what ppl been saying but get called stuff. It’s an exciting transfer window but at the same time expectations need to be tempered…I don’t think that will happen though. It’s past the point…. Scudetto or bust lol

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