Mastroianni downplays Liverpool friendly result and advises Leao on Milan future

By Oliver Fisher -

DAZN commentator Dario Mastroianni has advised Rafael Leao to remain at AC Milan, and also believes the result from the friendlies in Dubai should not have much read into them.

Milan were in Dubai from December 10th to the 20th as part of a warm weather mid-season training camp while the World Cup was happening in Qatar. The season resumes on January 4 with the trip to Salernitana, and if you fancy a flutter on how Milan will fare then there are payment methods available.

Mastroianni was the commentator for yesterday’s match against Liverpool for DAZN and he spoke to MilanNews about a number of topics from the game itself to the future of certain players.

Yesterday Milan suffered a resounding 4-1 loss against Liverpool. Despite this result, what is there to take?

“Yesterday’s result shouldn’t be taken into consideration, especially for the elements of the squad that Pioli had available. Then it’s clear that you played against Liverpool.

“The coach looked for the indications in the first half and also found them because good responses came from Saelemaekers, who was part of that group of players recovering from a fairly long injury, and seeing him again in this condition is positive.

“Lazetic had some space, and showed a little something. In midfield, Tonali is always a certainty and I think he is growing in brilliance. For the rest, it is a game that gives Pioli little indication.”

Milan recovered a piece for the right wing in Alexis Saelemaekers, scorer of the only Rossoneri goal yesterday. How important is his return, especially in terms of tactics and balance?

“Yes, it’s important. On a tactical level because he’s a player who gives you different solutions than Messias, both with and without the ball. He’s intense, he ensures your performance in terms of attitude, defensive work and also quality because that what he did in Europe I think is quite evident.

“In Milan’s growth if we compare the last two stages in the Champions League, even Saelemaekers’ performance up to the injury was clearly higher. For Pioli it is important to have him back in these conditions, and he already proven to be quite brilliant.”

And this version of Bennacer seems to be too important…

“Bennacer is extremely important in this team. In the first half he played monstrous games. I noticed some statistics in the Champions League and they are impressive.

“I remember a Bennacer who suffered on a couple of occasions last year in Europe, especially in the two games with Porto, where the goals were born from two tackles – one was an obvious foul, the other in the return half and half.

“However, on a physical level and in terms of impact in the European arena, he has grown a lot. This year is the third player for tackles hired in the Champions League group stage: he makes himself heard, he is present with his team-mates, he is a driving force on the pitch and clearly raises Milan’s quality level and, above all, increases the team’s ability to manage the pace of the game. He is simply a key player for the team.”

What do you think of the Leao situation? Will he sign the renewal?

“The speech seems clear enough to me: the parties need to talk to each other very serenely. My idea, conditioned by the words of Pioli and Ibrahimovic, is that the player still needs to take a step to become a champion.

“The first step he had to take at Milan was to understand that he was decisive… and he did, but he still lacks a little bit – for example to be at the World Cup with Portugal and be an indisputable starter, which he wasn’t in hindsight, however well he did when he was called on.

“The ideal place to take this step is Milan, for several reasons: for what they have already done in recent years, for the role they have, for the trust against him and for the Milan game system that exalts him. I think trying to stay with the Rossoneri is the right thing for his career.”

To conclude, a question on the Scudetto race is obligatory: will Napoli keep winning or will the stop for the World Cup shuffle the cards?

“That’s the big question we all ask ourselves. The feeling is that another season is really beginning where the rhythms will be very similar to those of the first part of the season and where we will always play. We’ll have to see.

“Napoli are certainly simply extraordinary: compared to in recent years, they also won matches in which they did not perform at the top. Now they are a strong, aware team that has alternatives. So perhaps it depends more on Napoli than on the others, but another season is really starting.”

Tags AC Milan Rafael Leao
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