Zlatan Ibrahimovic has urged his Milan team-mate Rafael Leao to reject interest from other clubs and stay at San Siro in order to realise his “scary” potential.
Leao played a key role as Milan ended an 11-year wait to win the Scudetto last term, while no other Rossoneri player can match his tallies of six goals and four assists in Serie A this season.
The winger, who scored in Portugal’s World Cup wins against Ghana and Switzerland, has been linked with the likes of Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool in recent months.
However, Ibrahimovic insists Milan is the best place for Leao to develop, highlighting the strides he has made since breaking into Stefano Pioli’s team.
“Of course, Milan is the right environment for him,” Ibrahimovic told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “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.
“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.”
More to come https://t.co/Q5aXTTw2s7
— Rafael Leão (@RafaeLeao7)
Several young players came to the fore as Milan edged out rivals Inter to win Serie A and Ibrahimovic believes Leao is the most exciting talent of all.
“Theo [Hernandez] has improved so much, [Charles] De Ketelaere is strong, and patience is needed. But Leao is on another level, above average,” he added.
“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.”
Milan resume their Serie A campaign with a trip to Salernitana on January 4, having entered the World Cup break eight points adrift of leaders Napoli.