AC Milan attacker Rafael Leao was back to his devastating best to win Serie A Player of the Week for Matchday 28, as the Rossoneri plundered four goals at league leaders Napoli on Sunday night.
What made the performance even more impressive was that it came at the Neapolitans Stadio Diego Armando Maradona home, where they themselves have destroyed plenty of domestic and European opponents this season.
Leao’s return to form
With two goals against the Partenopei, Leao became the first Milan player since Mario Balotelli in 2013/14 to have hit double figures in Serie A in consecutive seasons, and the deft dink over Alex Meret on 17 minutes contradicted his recent poor form.
When the Portuguese international bamboozled the Napoli defence and smashed another past the Italian just after half-time, though, the swagger of earlier in the campaign had returned.
With Leao currently locked in contract negotiations with the club that have been going on for many months, fans will hope that his superb display in Campania could help to speed up the signing of a new deal. With the current contract expiring in June 2024, they must get an extension signed now or sell him in the summer to avoid a free transfer.
Perfect Champions League audition
Although the Rossoneri welcome Empoli to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Friday night, Milanisti will already look ahead to their two-legged Champions League quarter-final clash with Partenopei. The hosts had not conceded twice within the first 25 minutes since August 2019 versus Juventus, but Milan will now take less fear into the second leg in Naples.
With Pierre Kalulu injured, coach Stefano Pioli had also switched from the 3-4-2-1, that had brought additional defensive resilience in recent weeks, to his tried and tested 4-2-3-1. However, despite 20 shots on goal, Napoli could score and that will fill the Rossoneri with confidence ahead of the continental clash.