Pioli rates Leao’s performance as ‘the best he has put in’ since he arrived

By Oliver Fisher -

Stefano Pioli believes that the performance from Rafael Leao against Salernitana today was his best in an AC Milan shirt so far.

Milan opened 2023 in the right way with three points against Salernitana, and two of the certainties from last year picked up where they left off in Leao and midfielder Sandro Tonali, who each had a hand in the two goals.

Tonali set up the Portuguese winger for the opener with a through ball over the top that he brought down before rounding Ochoa and slotting home from a narrow angle, and then a Leao run caused havoc for the second goal with Tonali beating the Mexican goalkeeper at the second attempt with a powerful low shot.

Pioli spoke to the reporters who gathered for his post-match press conference to assess the performance from his side, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.

What are your thoughts on the win in Salerno?

“It was certainly a deserved victory, we built up many chances and we could have finished the game earlier to avoid taking risks that we basically didn’t take. In the training camp before the season restarted there were some defeats that made us think, but they had to be lived with serenity because I’ve always been aware of my team’s potential,” he said.

“I said yesterday at the press conference that I was absolutely convinced that we would have a quality match, at times I saw a Milan capable of expressing themselves with quality. The two-goal lead allowed us to manage the game with personality and character. And they are characteristics that we absolutely need if we want to try to be successful in the various competitions in which we are in.”

How do you judge Leao’s performance?

“Since I arrived it was the best performance he has put in. I certainly don’t have to talk about the quality, speed and eye for goal today, I praise him publicly because I saw a player who fought across the pitch, who recovered balls, who gave a hand in the defensive phase and who didn’t spare himself in the rare moments in which there was suffering. Now, however, he has shown his true potential and has the task of giving continuity and always expressing himself on this level.”

You return to the Arechi as an ex-Salernitana player, what sensations did you feel?

“Just yesterday I was thinking about it. I was here 20 years ago, I was younger. How much time has passed. I know perfectly the extraordinary potential of this stadium, the heat of the Arechi certainly does not come as a surprise to me. All the more reason we were good at to start well and to play with quality and personality in the presence of an aggressive opponent who has been able to develop some good gameplay.”

Tags AC Milan Charles De Ketelaere Rafael Leao Stefano Pioli


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