Maldini: ‘Courageous Milan, best place for Rafael Leao’

Milan

Paolo Maldini maintains Milan need to continue showing ‘courage’ against Chelsea despite the injury crisis and warns Rafael Leao remains ‘a rough diamond, so Milan is the best place for him to develop.’

It kicks off at 20.00 UK time (19.00 GMT), you can follow all the build-up and action as it happens from this game and Juventus-Maccabi Haifa on the LIVEBLOG.

The Rossoneri are top of the Champions League group going in with four points, while the Blues are rock bottom on just one point, having lost to Dinamo Zagreb and drawn with RB Salzburg.

They are also decimated by injuries and squad restrictions, making the journey to London without 12 players.

“We have a lot of injuries, some of them very serious, as three players will only be available from January onwards,” Maldini told Amazon Prime Italia.

“What we’ve done over the last two-and-a-half years is to not accept excuses and make sure everyone can be a protagonist in this squad. That is one of the secrets to our success.

“The team was very courageous last season, we believed in our chances from the start. When you win something for the first time, the most difficult test becomes confirming your success by winning again.

“I expect to see us confirm our status in Italy and to get through to the Champions League knockouts. It is more difficult to win again, because you have that focus on you at all times and need to maintain your concentration.”

This is a showdown with Graham Potter’s Chelsea, as the club sacked Thomas Tuchel after the opening 1-0 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb.

“What we’ve done in our years together is be courageous. If we get scared, then we lose our identity. Growth is a process and it is also helped by facing difficult games like this. We might even lose them, but as long as we go out there with the idea of competing and without a sense of inadequacy, we can have our say even against a side that is the reigning World Club Cup holder.”

Inevitably, this fixture has brought back the speculation over Chelsea and their attempts to sign Rafael Leao, who is only under contract until June 2024.

“Leao is still a rough diamond. He arrived at the age of 20, I didn’t have his sense of confidence at 20. Each of us have a different path to take. I felt the pressure and needed a pat on the back or reassuring word at the right time, so these lads too need the same support a father gives to his child.”

As for the contract negotiations, they continue, with Leao’s agent requesting €7m per season.

“We have the desire to extend the contracts with him, Ismael Bennacer and Pierre Kalulu. That is the intention, then naturally we need to sit around a table and negotiate.

“I think Milan is the best place for Rafa to develop completely as a player, in my view.”

One Comment on “Maldini: ‘Courageous Milan, best place for Rafael Leao’”

  1. After Leaos’ performance at Stanford Bridge, I doubt that Chelsea will even sign him. It looked like Leao and his Milan teammates were going to a walk in the park. A big Chelsea beat down will bring Milan back down to reality. LOL

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