Sky journalist gives insight on Pioli’s Leao comments: “Off air he said even more frank things”

By Oliver Fisher -

Sky journalist Peppe Di Stefano has revealed some interesting background on the interview he did with Stefano Pioli and in particular his comments on Rafael Leao.

Leao’s future continues to dominate the headlines surrounding the Rossoneri as he is without doubt the most in-demand player after a season in which he was crowned the Serie A MVP and scored crucial goals in the title race.

Pioli spoke in an interview with Sky that was released yesterday and he was asked about the Portugal international, revealed that he feels happy at Milan and also throwing in his own personal opinion as his head coach that the ex-Lille man can still grow more with his journey at Milan not yet done.

Di Stefano spoke to Radio Rossonera about the chat he had with Pioli and he was asked by the broadcaster what he thought of the comments he made on Leao.

“Pioli’s frankness amazes me. Off air he said even more frank things about Leao. Nobody discusses his qualities, but why doesn’t he play as a starter for Portugal? He probably doesn’t have that continuity,” the Sky journalist began.

“Pioli said: ‘In Manchester City’s 4-2-3-1 the wingers work’. It doesn’t mean defensive phase, but working 100 minutes, and then maybe doing micro-pressing. Leao sometimes doesn’t do it, he lights up with the ball but sometimes he drifts out.

“That’s why he’s not complete, and in fact Pioli said he has to take the extra step. And he has to do it here: if you go to play for a top tier club next year, the risk is that they won’t take you into consideration.

“They can pay 70-80 million euros anyway. But it’s as if Milan paid 20 for a player, and De Ketelaere ended up on the bench at the moment. Leao needs to play and it’s right that he takes those steps that are missing at Milan, but above all for his growth.

“It’s more for him, Milan allows him to have empty games. Doing that at Paris Saint-Germain, if you miss a game and go to the bench, you may stay there for weeks. With Mbappé, Messi, Neymar, Renato Sanches… In the Rossoneri he is the ultimate value. It is right, for me, that for his growth he stays at least another two years.

“Pioli made us all think last night. A coach could have said that Leao is a great champion, finished and complete. Instead, he said true things. He isn’t yet, but he can become one with work, not with time. It is not with time that we become good, but with work.”

Tags AC Milan Rafael Leao Stefano Pioli


  1. Most truthful article I have read about Leao’s game.
    He even mentions ManCity. I always laugh when people say ManCity wants Leao and I imagine Pep subbing Leao in the 20th minute because he isn’t moving and following his instructions. Pep style is all about movement, read of the game, and quick flowing passes. Leao is the opposite of all that.
    “Milan allows him empty games.” That’s on Pioli to fix. He needs to be tougher and more demanding with Leao.
    But the most telling is the last part where he specifically emphasizes twice that “you get better with work , not with time.” That’s a shot at Leao’s work ethic. You can see that by the lack of improvement and expansion in his game. He is the same player from when he came to Milan, just more confident and physically stronger

  2. OK, that said, the coach of the Portuguese national team is an idiot: what’s the point of removing CR7 from the team if it’s not to put Rafa Leão in his place???

    1. In fairness GreNoLi (nice throwback name btw)… you’d prob agree Leao is better as a winger than a no.9

      That guy Ramos of Benfica certainly vindicated his selection with a cracking finish!

      Plus after G.Jesus injury… I’m hoping Leao doesn’t have something similar. Come back fresh and healthy to help us defeat spurs!

    2. You sure you’re not the idiot? Seems like he knew what he was doing and Portugal did just fine without either of those selfish players who only care about seeing their name on the scoresheet.

    3. Portugal coach said it in his last interview that Leao doesn’t track back enough and at Milan he’s able to get away with it because we allow it. They don’t have a Theo that can mop up. Plus imo Leao is only as good when he has a capable LB with him to pull pressure off him

      1. i think i can agree and leao also has to realize he has to work hard and right now milan is best option for him, but guy has potential he needs to try

  3. On the other hand, a milan fan needs to be astronomically MENTAL RETARDED to challenge, question Rafael Leão’s brilliance. Did you see the goal he just scored against Switzerland? For cryin’ out loud, the guy plays wonderfully well…

    1. leao has his brilliance no doubt, but what ikwylds said is also right but i feel people here criticize alot guy is young and he has done great work let him continue bro

    2. @Gre-No-Li.
      The Portuguese forward that started the game, scored 3 goals, and assisted on another goal, was brilliant all game long and played wonderfully is called Goncalo Ramos.
      Rafael Leao was the player that came in the game in the 85th minute after warming the bench all game long, again, with the score being 5-1 and the game already decided.
      Based on the excitement in your comment, I think you might have those 2 players confused

  4. Guys we gotta admit that ‘Yes’ Leao is a fantastic player but to reach the levels of City, Bayern, PSG, Madrid, etc. he needs to add more attributes to his game. For eg. he was completely dismantled by Reece James against Chelsea.

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