Marcel Desailly believes Rafael Leao should become “ruthless” and “forge his character” after comparing the AC Milan winger to Thierry Henry.
Leão, who has been directly involved in 10 of the Rossoneri’s 29 Serie A goals this season (six goals and four assists), opened his scoring in Portugal with a win over Ghana in the World Cup on Thursday.
Desailly won the Champions League and two Scudetti in his five years at Milan from 1993 to 1998 – the same year he was teammate Henry in France’s first World Cup triumph.
When asked if he thinks Leao is like Henry, whose national record of 51 goals was equaled by Olivier Giroud in Les Bleus’ victory over Australia on Tuesday, the former defender told La Gazzetta dello Sport: “Calm down.
“It seems to me that Leao became a star even before he became a star. He has great potential, but he does not give me thoughts of ruthlessness. I ask Leao to forge his character.”
Meanwhile, Desailly praised another Milan player, compatriot Theo Hernandez, who came on as a substitute in France’s 4-1 victory over Soxera and could have stayed at full-back until the end of the World Cup due to the injury of his brother Lucas.
“Theo Hernandez can become the strongest in the world,” he added. “He is a chameleon, he has the ability to change his function in the team.”
Having regained the Serie A crown last season, Stefano Pioli’s side are eight points behind leaders Napoli after their first 15 matches in Italy’s top flight.
The Parthenopei are undefeated so far in their quest for their first Scudetto since the 1989-90 season, but Desailly does not believe they will maintain their momentum throughout the campaign.
“I love the energy of Napoli,” he said. “But I doubt that they will be able to hold out psychologically until the end. They don’t have a squad to hold out.”