Sporting Lisbon have produced some of the most exciting attacking talents in European football since the turn of the century and Rafael Leao appears to have the potential to follow in the footsteps of Nani, Gelson Martins, Luis Figo and a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 19-year-old forward is currently playing in France for Lille, having walked out of Sporting last summer after the club’s training ground was targeted by a masked mob. And Sporting’s loss is certainly Les Dogues’ gain.
Leao has scored seven times in all competitions this season, establishing himself as one of Europe’s most promising forwards. According to The Mail, Everton have been keeping a close eye on the ‘new Kylian Mbappe’ with director of football Marcel Brands keen to bring the rising star to Goodison Park.
So bold claims from Leao’s former Sporting Lisbon youth coach should not go unnoticed.
"I pushed (former manager) Jorge Jesus to take him in first team. I said to him: ‘Yes, Gelson Martins has talent but Rafael is the best player in the history of the Sporting Academy’,” Tiago Fernandes told L'Equipe.
“As a youngster he was better than Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Considering that Ronaldo blossomed into one of the game’s all-time greats during stellar spells at Manchester United and Real Madrid, Leao has a long, long way to go before he can match the achievements of Juventus’ number seven.
But comments like suggest that Brands has unearthed another rough diamond.
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