Every superhero needs a sidekick and, in Rafael Leao, Zlatan Ibrahimovic might have just found his Robin.
While AC Milan’s Swedish superstar is once again hogging the headlines after a match-winning brace in Saturday’s 2-1 derby victory over Inter, the contribution of a forward 17 years Zlatan’s junior should not be underestimated.
It was Leao’s precise left-wing cross that served up the decisive goal on a silver platter, as Stefano Pioli’s all-conquering side became only the second club in European football to maintain a 100 per cent start to the season.
The other? Aston Villa, of course.
“(My Milan teammates) are doing well. They listen, they bring intensity. I don’t accept when someone relaxes in training, you always need to give one hundred percent,” Ibra told MilanNews24 after rattling through his usual Benjamin Button-themed braggadocio.
“Leao is strong – he almost has a better body than mine! He just has to concentrate and understand what possibilities he has to play for Milan.”
Leeds United certainly showed plenty of ambition in preparation for their first Premier League season in 16 years and, before turning their attention to Spain international Rodrigo Moreno, the Whites expressed an interest in luring the £32 million-rated Leao to West Yorkshire (Gianluca di Marzio).
Wolverhampton Wanderers were also linked, via Calciomercato, with Portugal’s latest wing wonder one of the pedigree horses in Jorge Mendes’ Gestifute stable.
But with Inter stuttering, Juventus in transition and Napoli as inconsistent as ever, could the San Siro’s answer to Batman and Robin bring the glory days back to Milan?
Leeds United’s record transfers
£21 million (2020)
Rio Ferdinand (2000)
Diego Llorente (2020)
Helder Costa (2020)