Leao-Milan, what's behind the Rafa crisis: market and form - Corriere.it

Leao-Milan, what's behind the Rafa crisis: market and form - Corriere.it

Of Carlos Passerini

The Portuguese striker hasn't scored in two months, ten games. And he doesn't laugh anymore. Pioli defends him: "We have to look for him more". But now it's the player's turn: he has 80 days to recover his future

He hasn't scored in two months. Ten games. An eternity, for a player of his talent, his class. But nothing tells Leao's deepest crisis more than body language. He doesn't laugh anymore, Rafa. That cheerfulness that made each of his plays and dribbles unique is now gone. It was a trademark, the added touch of his skills
, his skills, today is just a memory. All that appears on her face now is a kind of constant pout, which is perhaps more simply sadness, or restlessness. Or both.

The clear sensation is that the exit from the tunnel is increasingly distant. «His situation is strange» admitted Stefano Pioli after the extremely disappointing draw on Monday with Salernitana which slowed down the Champions League race, «because last year he did much less in training, but in the match he was more profitable. Now the opposite. We need to look for it more." Very true: if Leao works, Milan works. Certainly the new tactic doesn't help him: before he played wider and had more space, now with the 3-4-2-1 he's forced to move in traffic. Geographically he is closer to the goal, yes, but the truth is that he is out of the comfort zone of the touchline. In addition, now the opponents know him.

In short: the technician defends his jewel. And he reiterates that "the contract issue has nothing to do with it". Maybe, but it certainly doesn't help. More than a physical problem, Leao's is one of concentration. And the proof was given by Pioli himself, if it is true that in training Rafa proves to be fine. The fact is that for months now there has been more talk of the agreement expiring in June 2024 than of the field. Too many people involved, too many voices to listen to. Agent Mendes, lawyer Dimvula, father Antonio: the pool of advisers is far too large, with the result that in the end only confusion grows. It would be good for the boy to stay at Milan, because it would be difficult elsewhere – such as in the Premier League – to find clubs willing to wait for him like Milan is doing with him. However, this trust must be deserved, like the top player salary he claims. Going away, he would certainly find someone willing to give it to him. But would it really be the best choice? See Donnarumma: he hasn't grown up at PSG anymore.

The renewal negotiation is less uphill than two months ago: a feeling that filters through both Casa Milan and the player's entourage. Let's not beat around the bush: obviously the fact that Leao is now no longer the one of 2022. Today there would hardly be a queue to give 10 million a year to a striker who hasn't scored in two months. However, Milan continues (rightly) on his line: they believe in him, just as they believed in him before his explosion. And beyond 7 million it will not go. Now it's Rafa's turn. He has 80 days to smile again and recover his future.

March 15, 2023 (change March 15, 2023 | 07:48)

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