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Leao: ‘Pioli made me the play I am’

Rafael Leao believes Milan coach Stefano Pioli helped to make him the player he is today. the 22-year-old spoke with broadcaster DAZN and discussed his relationship with the coach who trusted him to start for the Rossoneri soon after he arrived:

Despite the difficulties Pioli trusted me and started me in the team. It’s thanks to him that I became the player I am. He gave me the right mentality because he is someone who has pushed me to always believe in myself. He said to me, “You have talent, but you lack a little winning mentality. If you want to get to the Mbappé and Ronaldo levels, you have to make a difference in all the games, otherwise you’ll be an average player”. I listened to him a lot.

I said to myself that everyone should see who I really was and it happened. Mbappé and Ronaldo are the two that inspire me, the ones I watch most on YouTube. I’m still not a ‘goleador’ like them, a “matador”, but I’m learning and I want to get to that level.

The next step? Dribbling makes the difference, but sometimes I can score more and I have to do it even if I start from the left. When I arrive in front of the goal I have to be more accurate. In the past I wasn’t. Now instead… I’m growing  like Henry did? He was a great player, I’m still a young man trying to get that level. No comparisons.

Surfing? Surfers sometimes miss the wave, but afterwards they return to the board and do well. I think it’s the right way to think: you can try and make mistakes but you have to continue learning, find solutions after you’ve made the mistakes.

Hernandez says he’s faster than me? Once in training we have to run and bet… I like Theo, he’s powerful, for me it is one of the strongest left backs in the world, a fundamental element for our team.”

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Serie A obsessive, lover of 90's Italian defenders, bourbon and wide open highways.