Portugal coach Fernando Santos has explained why he has not yet given Rafael Leao a start at the World Cup despite scoring so quickly in his first appearance.
Leao showed all of his athleticism and speed in the 3-2 win against Ghana in the first group stage game, as well as perfect movement to open up space for the assist from his team-mate and a precise right-footed shot into the corner to open his World Cup account.
Many thought that would lead to the Milan winger getting a start either in the next game or in the South Korea one given the need to rotate, but Leao is stuck on two appearances from the bench.
Fernando Santos spoke at his pre-match press conference before the round of 16 match against Switzerland, and he was asked about his use of Leao.
“He has enormous potential. He will have a great career but he is experiencing the normal difficulties of a player who enjoys a certain freedom in his club team and is not called upon to balance the game,” he said (via Calciomercato.com).
“He has made a fantastic effort, but there are players who stand out in some teams and not in others. This does not detract from the qualities of him and the trust I have in him.”