Gary Neville praised reported Tottenham Hotspur target Rafael Leao following Portugal’s World Cup last-16 victory.
Leao came off the bench to score the sixth and final goal of Portugal’s 6-1 demolition of Switzerland as they progressed to the quarter-finals.
His curling effort from the edge of the box after cutting in from the left showed the world a glimpse of what he produces for Milan on a weekly basis, with the 23-year-old registering 16 goal involvements this season for the Rossoneri.
He’s previously been linked with a move to Spurs by Italian journalist Fabio Cordella (via Calciomercato) back in October, but the talismanic figure has now received great acclaim from Neville on ITV’s coverage of the last-16 clash.
He said: “I really like him. I liked him when he came on in that first game [against Ghana], I think he gave them more balance in those wide areas.”
TIF Thoughts on Neville’s comments…
Leao showed his goalscoring ability yet again in his three-minute cameo after previously netting in the opening group game against Ghana, making it two World Cup goals in just 62 minutes of football.
The fact that Portugal can call on stars such as Leao to come off the bench is a credit to the strength of the squad, with the Milan forward in the top 15% for goals scored by wingers and attacking midfielders with 0.42 per 90.
His tally of 3.47 shots per 90 sees him place in the top 3% amongst wingers in the top five leagues over the past 365 days (via FBref), just highlighting how much of a goal threat he is.
And with Cristiano Ronaldo dropped against Switzerland, it could see the 15-time Portugal international step into the spotlight on the international stage alongside fellow young stars Joao Felix and Goncalo Ramos, who will be the key to the nation’s future.
Overall, we think the signs are that Spurs would be onto a winner if they were to develop their reported interest this winter or in the summer – provided someone doesn’t beat them to the punch with Leao potentially having put himself in the shop window.