Leao admits tough start with Pioli: “At the beginning we weren’t on the same wavelength”

By Euan Burns -

AC Milan forward Rafael Leao has admitted that he did not have a good working relationship with Stefano Pioli when the Italian first took over the Rossoneri, but went on to explain how the situation changed. 

An extract of Leao’s new book ‘Smile’ has been reported by Radio Rossonera, and the book discusses his upbringing in Portugal and his career up to his current spell with Milan in Serie A.

Pioli is actually the second coach that Leao has had since he joined Milan from Lille, as Marco Giampaolo was the coach when he first arrived in August 2019.

He was 19 years old at the time and things did not start smoothly in Italy, as he did not have the best relationship with Giampaolo.

“In my career at AC Milan I have had two coaches, or maybe just one. Between me and coach Giampaolo there was practically no relationship, I had just arrived at Milan and for a player like me, at nineteen years old, settling in was the first challenge. At the beginning he didn’t understand how to integrate me on the pitch, and I had a cold relationship with him; formal greetings at training and nothing else. We played badly, I played little, and after a few games the coach was dismissed,” Leao wrote.

He did not have to work under Giampaolo for a very long time, though, as Pioli was brought in in October and there was an opportunity for a fresh start with Leao, a player the club had high hopes for from the beginning.

As it turned out, Leao also didn’t see eye-to-eye with Pioli at the beginning, saying: “At the beginning with Pioli we were not on the same wavelength, I remember a press conference of his that annoyed me, in which he said things that I didn’t think he should say, which he should have discussed in front of the team first.”

That relationship has improved more and more as time has gone by and it is clear there are no issues between the duo now, with Pioli able to speak publicly and honestly about the player.

“It took time before we understood how to relate to each other, in the meantime he had the skill to find the best way for me and the team to play. He put me in a position to make a difference and that’s how we got closer. I am one of the players who has spent the most time in his office but also the one who has played the most minutes in each of the last few seasons,” he said.

Tags AC Milan Rafael Leao

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