Zlatan Ibrahimovic urges Rafael Leao to stay at AC Milan to develop

Zlatan Ibrahimovic urges Rafael Leao to stay at AC Milan where he has the ‘confidence, space, freedom’ to become ‘really scary’ with Chelsea strong suitors for the Portuguese starlet’s services

  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic belives Rafael Leao has all he needs to develop at AC Milan
  • Of all the young talent at the San Siro Ibrahimovic believes Leao is a cut above
  • The 23-year-old starred for Portugal at the World Cup in Qatar scoring two goals
  • Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has called for AC Milan team-mate Rafael Leao to remain at the Italian side, where he believes the 23-year-old has the space to grow into a top prospect, amid interest from overseas. 

The Swedish striker urged Leao to remain at the San Siro, citing his already-startling growth as a prime reason why he should continue his development at the Serie A champions for the foreseeable future. 

Leao won the league title with I Rossoneri in 2021-22, scoring 11 goals and providing 10 assists in 34 games, and starred for Portugal at the World Cup in Qatar with two goals from the bench.  

Zlatan Ibrahimovic urged Rafael Leao to remain at AC Milan and continue his development

The ex-Sporting and Lille forward is yet to return to the Italian side after his exploits in Qatar, and was therefore unavailable for his side’s role in the mid-season friendly tournament, the Dubai Super Cup. 

‘Of course, Milan is the right environment for him,’ Ibrahimovic told Sky Sports in Italy according to Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano.

‘Just look at his growth. When he arrived, he was far from the decisive player he is today. Here he is very important for us, elsewhere would he be as important? He would have to start from scratch, you can’t be sure he would be ready right away.

‘At Milan he has confidence, space and freedom, which is not a given at another club, it’s up to you.

Leao scored 11 and assisted 10 goals as AC Milan ended their 11-season wait for a Scudetto

‘Besides, you can see that he is happy here, by now he is laughing even before scoring. He is the young man who has grown the most.’

But it is not just Leao that has found AC Milan a suitable location to learn his trade at the highest level, with Ibrahimovic pointing to a growing number of stars to find their feet at the San Siro. 

After an 11-year Serie A drought, Milan lifted the Scudetto at the end of last season on the back of a side made up of experienced elite players such as Ibrahimovic, alongside talented young stars. 

Of all the young talent currently at the San Siro, Ibrahimovic believes the forward is a cut above

Leao was one of these such younger players, alongside Theo Hernandez, Fikayo Tomori and Sandro Tonali, with the club building on that younger contingent by adding Charles de Ketelaere this summer. 

‘Theo has improved so much, De Ketelaere is strong, and patience is needed,’ added Ibrahimovic. ‘But Leao is on another level, above average. He lacks a step, he will only do it when he is fully convinced of his abilities.

‘Today even he doesn’t really know how strong he is. Then he will be really scary. And the price will go up.’

The Swedish striker has played 45 games alongside Leao, with the two combining for six goals

Chelsea have been one of the sides most regularly linked with an approach for Leao, and have struggled for goals at times this season. 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is long past his lethal best, and Kai Havertz is not an out-and-out goalscorer that can pick up the slack as a false nine under Graham Potter. 

And now that Armando Broja has suffered a season-ending knee injury, Leao could find himself subject of heightened interest from the Blues in the coming January transfer window. 

He is also thought to be on a shortlist at Manchester United alongside fellow youngster Cody Gakpo, according to ESPN reports.  

Chelsea have long been linked with a move for the 23-year-old Portuguese star who won the Serie A title last season

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