When Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s first return to AC Milan was announced back in December 2019, one of the things he got to work doing was refining Rafael Leao’s talent. Now, he faces a similar mission.
As Tuttosport (via MilanNews) reports this morning, the first thing that Ibrahimovic did yesterday after landing back at Malpensa from Miami was to go straight to Milanello to meet Stefano Pioli and the team that are preparing for Sunday’s away match against Empoli.
The Swede, who will be present at the Stadio Carlo Castellani, spoke with many players. One of them was Leao, someone that he has a special relationship with and who is fresh from scoring in the Coppa Italia against Cagliari on Tuesday.
However, the young Portuguese striker has not scored a goal in Serie A for over three months. His last league goal dates back to September 23, when he was decisive in the home match against Verona in a game where he also wore the captain’s armband.
The hope at Milanello is that Ibra’s return can give Leao the right shock ahead of Sunday’s away match at Empoli. There is a great relationship between the two, as evidenced by the Portuguese’s words released to Sky in recent days.
“When I played good games he didn’t say anything to me, when I played badly instead he came and told me ‘Rafa…’ He gave me positive pressure,” he said.
“When you know that a person speaks to you to help you, you know that he loves you and therefore Ibra’s advice helped me. Now with his return he will help me even more, he is an important person for all of us and for Milan. Having him with us is fundamental.”
Will Ibrahimovic’s presence be enough to end Leao’s long drought of goals in the league? The field will tell us the answer, but in the meantime the duo are back together.