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‘They appeared as best friends but they are not’ – Rafael Leao speaks on his relationship with Zlatan Ibrahimovic

AC Milan standout Rafael Leao has provided insights into his connection with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and disclosed his closest friend in the San Siro dressing room.

The Portuguese international noted that Ibrahimovic never directly approached him after a good game but did offer valuable advice on aspects like dribbling and ball control.

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While Leao shared a positive rapport with Ibrahimovic before the Swedish striker’s retirement, he identified Algerian midfielder Ismael Bennacer as his best friend at Milan.

Since joining AC Milan in 2019, the 24-year-old has played a key role in the club’s success, notably contributing to their Serie A triumph in the 2021–22 season alongside Ibrahimovic.

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The emotional retirement announcement from football by the 41-year-old Ibrahimovic occurred in June of the same year, with a tearful farewell in front of AC Milan fans at San Siro.

He concentrated on the details a lot; he wasn’t interested in dribbling. Sometimes he would tell me, ‘Rafa, you have to control it like this and immediately take it towards the goal. With your talent, you can’t make mistakes with a touch like that.’”

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When asked who he considers his best friend at San Siro, the player replied, “(Ismael) Bennacer. I’ve got a great relationship with him; he’s my brother.”

The forward is presently sidelined due to a hamstring injury sustained in AC Milan’s Serie A encounter against Lecce.

Omitted from Portugal’s squad for their last Euro 2024 qualifying matches, it remains uncertain whether Leao can recover in time for his club’s upcoming fixture against Fiorentina on Saturday.

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