David Pereira – a journalist for Diário de Notícias – has given his thoughts on a number of topics concerning the links between Portugal and Milan.
He was interviewed by MilanNews and began by reflecting on Rafael Leao’s current moment. The young forward has had an up and down season just as he did in 2019-20, showing himself to be good as a winger and against lesser opponents, but not great against deeper defences and as a centre-forward.
“Leao is a versatile forward, capable of playing in any attacking position. It all depends on the type of play of the team, because he is a very fast player who makes speed one of his main weapons. At Lille he played mainly as a centre-forward, but in the Sporting youth teams and in the national youth teams he often played as a winger,” Pereira said.
Leao certainly was considered a rising star in Portugal, but he must maintain his development because otherwise he may be left behind given the talent the country is producing.
“Rafael Leao is one of the great promises of Portuguese football and will probably be present in the next squads of the senior national team. His performances and goals are also highlighted in the press.
“However, Portugal are full of quality in attack, with Cristiano Ronaldo, João Félix, Bernardo Silva or Diogo Jota, who have played at a high level in recent seasons. The coach, Fernando Santos, prefers players who are owners in their club and who have many minutes of play, but Leao has not always started at Milan.”
Diogo Dalot is another player who has so far convinced only in flashes, leading to suggestions that Milan will let him return to Manchester United rather than attempting to negotiate an option to buy, which MilanNews suggest would be set at around €20m.
“20 million euros in football is a small investment. Diogo Dalot is one of the most important Portuguese footballers of the 1999 golden generation, European U17 champion in 2016. For him it all happened too soon. In 2018 he made his debut in first team with Porto, but was in a runoff with Ricardo Pereira, who was at the 2018 World Cup and who moved to Leicester, and with Alex Telles, currently at Manchester United.
“However, José Mourinho decided to sign him for United, an early step. Dalot also had problems with injuries, as well as not being able to stabilise between the right and left flank.”
In recent weeks Otavio has been linked with Milan several times, and Pereira believes that whoever snatches him on a free transfer will have pulled off some excellent business, even if he is not quite at Hakan Calhanoglu’s level.
“He could be a good signing for AC Milan, although I wouldn’t dare to say that Otavio is stronger than Calhanoglu. Otavio will expire at the end of the season and is one of Porto’s best players. He is a technical player but he is also aggressive, he can playing in different positions also in midfield and on the flanks. Anyone who catches him will do a great deal.”