Pioli Dishes on Giroud, Leao, Maldini and Ibrahimovic

Milan coach Stefano Pioli weighed in on his forwards, Paolo Maldini, and a few more topics in an interview with Sky.

“I think Olivier Giroud is in an optimal moment. He was enthusiastic before the World Cup and he’s proving to be a great player. A phone call was enough for me to assess his caliber and qualities. He has always been very incisive, determined, and generous. He’s a true leader.”

The gaffer commented on Rafael Leao and his extension talks.

“I leave the players alone, but they have to contact me after every game. He’s fine and happy because Portugal are doing well. It’s tough to judge his minutes from afar. He has incredible potential considering that he combines speed and technique like very few others. He needed time to adjust to new methods and a different reality. I think he has to take an extra step to become a true champion. He can be even more decisive in the opposing box. He’s intelligent, but those who have talent also need to be given freedom. I sense that he’s at ease with us. He’s negotiating with the management, and we expect positive news. I’m fond of him, and I think his journey with us isn’t over yet.”

Pioli heaped praise on Maldini and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

“I’ve always felt the support of the technical area and Ivan Gazidis. The discussions of the executives strengthen my work. They don’t visit the training center just to watch practice, but to establish a rapport with everybody. Maldini is a central figure and has an incredible DNA knowledge-wise. Ibrahimovic was key for the growth of the team since he joined a young squad that hadn’t won. He raised our level.”

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