Connect with us

AC Milan

Rafael Leao’s Champions League performance shows why he belongs in Premier League

Rising star Rafael Leao delivered another ‘man of the match’ performance to help AC Milan reach the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 2007 on Tuesday.

After providing an assist for Ismael Bennacer in the first leg, the Portugal international made one of the best solo runs you’ll see in this season’s Champions League to set up Olivier Giroud on a silver platter.

He picked up the ball on his own half and breezed past three Napoli players before laying it off for the French striker, who couldn’t miss from a couple of yards out, putting Milan in front at the Maradona Stadium.

Although Victor Osimhen drew Napoli level in the dying moments of the encounter, Milan squeaked into the semi-finals on the back of Leao’s brilliance.

Last season’s Serie A MVP award winner proved he’s a man for the big occasion, showcasing his burgeoning talent on Europe’s biggest stage.

His illustrious display in southern Italy saw him stay in touch with Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior as the best dribbler in this season’s Champions League.

Before last night’s game, Vinicius had 36 successful dribbles in Europe’s elite competition, with the 23-year-old lagging three behind with 33, proving he’s already a top-level player.

Leao’s individual masterstroke helped him become the best Milan dribbler in a single Champions League season since the legendary Ricardo Kaka, who tallied 37 successful flicks past the opposition in 2004/05.

After the game, the Rossoneri boss Stefano Pioli heaped praise on his headline performer, who has recently drawn interest from Paris Saint-Germain.

“We’re enjoying everything about Leao,” he said, as relayed by The Athletic.

“Today we asked him to help out more defensively and he did it. Rafa is becoming a champion and that’s what he’ll become.”

Leao has grown into one of Europe’s most in-demand prospects in the last couple of years, with his contract at Milan running out in 2024.

Despite the club’s desire to renew his deal, the ex-Lille man could soon wave goodbye to Serie A and move to a more competitive league.

Several Premier League clubs, including Manchester City, have taken an interest in the highly-rated forward.

If Leao’s stunning Serie A exploits weren’t enough to convince Pep Guardiola to break the bank, his Champions League form could do the trick.

More in AC Milan