Sacchi believes Leao is preventing Milan from becoming ‘a collective’

By Isak Möller -

Rafael Leao responded to the critics with an important goal for AC Milan against Hellas Verona yesterday afternoon. However, some remain unimpressed by the winger, including the former Rossoneri manager Arrigo Sacchi.

Leao was heavily criticised for his miss in the game against Newcastle, which ended 0-0, as he tried to score with a backheel rather than a normal effort. He responded in the best way possible, though, scoring the winner against Verona.

The former Milan manager Arrigo Sacchi is still not impressed by the winger, stating that he’s holding Milan back. He believes that Leao must track back more and sacrifice himself for the good of the team.

“Leao scored a good goal, but today Milan seem to be tailored for him and this is a limit. His way of being on the pitch, not tracking back and a lack of participation in the group’s work, is preventing Milan from becoming a collective.

“If you want to make a leap in quality, towards a more European football, it’s essential that everyone is functional to the project and that everyone knows how to sacrifice themself in the name of the team,” he told Gazzetta Dello Sport (via MilanNews).

Leao has been a very important player at the start of this season and most people probably don’t agree with the words of Sacchi. Certainly not Stefano Pioli, who knows just how important the winger is for the team.

Tags AC Milan Arrigo Sacchi Rafael Leao


  1. Well, Pioli himself stated crystal clear stated that the team should give more and more ball to Leao. That’s when I started to doubt his strategy. And yes, 10 players came in and yet we our gameplay is still give the ball to Leao and insya Allah.

    1. Very true.
      I’m watching Son plays as a striker for Tottenham since the Kane sale and he is balling. 2 goals vs Arsenal so far.
      No reason for Leao not to be able to play as a striker besides his unwillingness to do so.

      1. Every one is talking, mention a great passer in that team. Non….. pulisic play with more of short passes, loft that want to be playing like he is the strongest in the work….with a very slow playing g styles…. this is how we started missing toneli and Saladmakers. Everybody where playing like they are Ronaldinho no team play.

          1. I stated my point in the initial comment. However I fail to see the point of yours, bringing off-topics like:

            1. Milan sale
            2. Random name of Todd Boehly
            3. Me being Italian or not

  2. Leao has always been my concern for the team. A great player, though, but, often lost on the pitch as if he doesn’t know where he is. He strolls on the pitch, and a lot of times, does what he wants. We need more team play, and, since most of our play goes through him, the coach needs to talk sense into him. Football is not a ‘one-man show’. He needs to think more about working with, and, for the team.

  3. Sachi is right but that’s not leao fault but the coach I think pioli can’t manage this quality players..cuz how can you have these quality players and still plays badly

  4. There is always that one player for who someone needs to cover a bit. Without those players the game would be boring. You can put 11 robots to play 11 robots in that case. Anyhow, if Milan didn’t have Leao the title 2 years ago would not exist. Literally 0 chance, probably not even CL qualifications, he pulled the rest of the useless players so hard that it was painful to watch. It seems he will have to do it again as new signings aren’t really showing up. You can talk bad about Leao defending, but what about Reijnders, RLC and others attacking? It is still Giroud and Leao, Pulisic looked good in first matches also. The rest – 0.

  5. Leao can be a selfish player where team work is needed. He squandered a great opportunity when Giroud was in a better position to finish it up. This is where you can identity class difference between clubs likes of Barcelona or Bayern.….team work. Pioli is another problem. One dimensional coach without plan B. Sacchi is quite right.

    1. You mean like this, when Giroud missed the penalty and Leao had to set it up for him so he can score? youtube(.)com/watch?v=Vi29eDM2id8 I can give you another 30 examples from last few seasons where Giroud did 5% and Leao 95%. Be serious.

  6. It’s not Leao’s fault but the coach’s, it’s not just leao not tracking back others do it with lackadaisical attitude, I saw the Real socieda vs Inters game the Real team had their mildfielders lining up in front of their defense once inter attacks

  7. Leao in 2020/2021 6 assists. Second highest assists for Milan
    In 2021/2022 10 assists highest assists for Milan.
    In 2022/2023 8 assists highest assists for Milan.

    But yet he’s selfish 🤣🤣
    Yeah he’s not good defensively and so what?
    And how can someone that has been a constant assists provider for his team mates be a hindrance to his team play?

    Indeed this fans only appreciate players that are not Milan players.
    Last season Leao was dragged here for beaing lazy, for being inferior to Kvaraschelia because Kvaraschelia is not a Milan player 🤣🤣

    So the issue now is that Leao is preventing Milan from being collective and he only play for himself 🤣🤣🤣

    I will never forget Sassuolo vs Milan, the last match of the season that gave Milan the scudetto, man single handed provide 3 assists in a 0 – 3 scudetto decider yet he’s being selfish and preventing his team from being collective and the fools here agree to that.
    Weldone no matter what you do you must be criticised that’s just the truth..

    He has done nothing wrong other than not being good defensively or other than not contributing defensively, we still have lots of past and present wingers and even midfielders that are not good defensively (Mesut Ozil is a honorable mention) if Sacchi thinks that Leao is not letting Milan be a collective team he should talk to Pioli and leave poor Leao that has done nothing but contribute to the success of this team alone.


    1. The stats are correct but I think ppl are talking about the gameplay being catered to him. So he’ll still get assists that way. I think we started off this season not relying on him by the way we played but the last couple games we reverted back to the mean and started relying on him again so the plays go more toward him. That what I’m thinking

        1. “Well the point is to use your best player, not play some others because people talk random stupid things in comments.”

          Yet there’s random stupid things right here above. LOL.

          “Use your best player, not play some others”. Yeah. The opponents isolate the the best player and that kills the game. Sounds like you’ve got a glorious masterplan there. Maybe they should sack Pioli and appoint you to coach Milan.

        2. Bro your response to what I’ve written doesn’t make sense Giancarlo. I haven’t even talked about playing other people or didnt say he wasn’t our best player. Learn to read

      1. Best solution for Milan is De Zerbi.
        I have been supporting Pioli all this while he had mediocre and average players at his disposal and also lack of depth. But this time he has all it take to make opponents suffer but he’s using a total wrong strategy.
        There’s no need backing him anymore.
        The arrival of good players at Milan this season has exposed his recklessness.

        1. I don’t think changing coach mid-season is anything but a good idea, we should give him atleast a full season with this squad and see what he achieves, and I don’t really understand the hatred against Pioli just because of a one bad game against Inter. I think we should just be patient with him until the end of the season and be little supportive coz as I see things rn, the management isn’t going to sack him unless he really creates some huge blunder, till then only thing we as fans can do is to support the coach and the team.

          You and the other guys out here constantly singing praises of De zerbi don’t understand the freedom that De zerbi has, he really doesn’t have the constant pressure of performing at the highest level and in no way I am disrespecting his coaching I am just saying that he still hasn’t coached big teams with big players and their big egos. This year he is gonna have the mid week games and that would clearly show his coaching skills more clearly.

        2. I’m still in support of Pioli as he’s been quite good for us and one of our best coaches all time. Doesn’t mean I agree with all of his decisions and lately he’s been frustrating from a tactical point of view. Didn’t agree with the formation change and the lack of rotation. That being said I will always throw my support to the players and coach. De Zebri looks.good but maybe for next year.
          Btw I also won’t forget Leao’s role in the scudetto. It was such a beautiful trophy to win after so long ( I think people under appreciate this). But I also remember Kessie, Timori, Kalulu and Tonali (esp that Lazio goal) just as much

    2. Being selfish is not synonymous with a lack of assists or passings. It means that the team’s strategy is pretty much to give the ball to Leao and let him figure out a solution.

        1. As often time, there is more than one reason. I did say it was a team strategy, so yes Pioli is partially to blame here, it’s him who decide that the gameplay is gonna be to pass the ball to Leao.
          Leao is also a bit to blame, he doesn’t help a lot defensively. Although that’s often a trait with creative players, under Sacchi, Van Basten didn’t like to defend, and the two men often disagree.
          He (Leao) should also perhaps try to be more involved in the buildup, instead of just looking for a killer pass or assist, but that’s just my opinion.
          Overall, it seems that the derby did put a dent on Milan who has lost confidence and doesn’t have a reliable strategy anymore.

          1. And the other players? If there was Messi on the right flank and De Bruyne in midfield it wouldn’t happen. People expect gold when Milan has only 3 top players, others are not there. Theo, Mike and Rafa. You are talking like Pioli has the choices to make, who will actually create the goals if not Leao? He had to do it almost solo in the past few seasons.

        2. That’s true for the past seasons, but this season, Pulisic, Chuk, Okafor and Jovic are (or at least supposed to be) capables of creating scoring chances and scoring goals themselves. Pulisic has already proved that he can score and build play.
          So this season it’s up to the coach to make good use of the depth that he has acquired

          1. Only Pulisic did take part in the US tour and a starter, we should wait before judging them.
            2 games without a good performance is no big deal.

    3. @Malda you seem to confuse FIFA and reality. Providing assist doesn’t mean you’re not self-fish. It means that your pass lead to a goal. An example of a team player is passing to a player who’s in a better position than you instead of shooting. He has done it a few times to be fair but he can be too hasty.
      Now the defensive aspect. A couple seasons ago son scored a goal from one end to another it was against Burnley. Sometimes just supporting defense give the team as a whole an advantage. Last year I did see him do it against Napoli in the UCL that was because the were securing the win. He need to he consistent, Milan would actually play much better. Saka for instance is good at it and still able to score.

    4. I don’t recall reading anything about him being selfish but rather not contributing fully to OTHER AREAS of his play overall, separate and apart from attacking. Sacchi also alluded to Milan being “tailored to” Leao, which is 100% correct. Our reliance on him is considerable and that’s evident. Ozil was never part of a system that relied on him as much as Milan’s reliance on Leao. The team being a collective would mean if Leao is injured we are still functional; if he were to sustain an injury at any time our chances of performing well or even progressing in UCL would be critically affected. Sacchi was 100% correct in his assessment, not sure how you surmised selfishness from this.

  8. I honestly think pioli should play Pulisic and Chukwueze in the next match to clarify something. (Leao obviously should be benched)😂. Let’s see teamwork in action without Leao before we judge and conclude.

  9. Yes agree with what many of you are saying about leao …no doubt about it he is a class player ,but he does overdo things sometimes,,,such as taking on too many players on ,,and rather than play a ball into a player in a better position..As a result he loses the ball to often …I think he wants to be the star ,rather than a team player …Again I am going to say this ,,he is class , and will develop to be perhaps a world class player .
    But of course we need him ,,just as we do Olivier Giroud…I watched inter win today ,,but they were far from impressive.Napoli weren’t much better and only drew against Bologna..
    I have no doubt whatsoever,,that we can win the scuddeto again this season .
    Of course the players ,,that is all of them will at some time need to be rotated …This has to be done sensibly and wisely ,,,only concern is ,,,I personally don’t like too many changes all at once …that said I think we have a great leader in poili …I trust him to make the changes at the right time …
    We are doing rather well at the moment.
    I am a great fan of Olivier Giroud,,,what a start he is having 4 goals 3 assists,,that’s pretty impressive.

    1. I saw Inter game too as well as their game in the UCL. That UCL game was crazy, they dug really deep to pull off that draw. They definitely have more grit than us and they’re for some reason are able to unlock opponents

  10. He is right but to be fair leao carried the team in his lowest period and skillful players are essential for a weak team to maintain a level or relevance but with the new players and the team having more options now sachi is absolutely on point milan have to sell leao to take the next step especially with 100M+ fee and seeing how tonali’s money changed the team and he’s going to leave anyway so i would rather sell him next summer than have a kessi and donaruma scenario again and with the money we can get 2 amazing players which we desperately need

  11. all we need is a better coach than can manage this players ego and pride but on and off the field. a coach who isn’t scared of trying new things on the pitch. mourinho would have been better for us but i don’t like his tactics they seem kinda outdated but surely he knows how the manage a team with players growing ego

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