Rafael Leao: The Lille forward dubbed the 'Portuguese Mbappe'

Published on: 07 February 2019

Rafael Leao has scored against Nimes, Toulouse, Caen, Amiens and Nice in Ligue 1 this season

Every week the BBC Football Daily Euro Leagues podcast panel will select a promising youngster to focus on. This week our subject is...

Rafael Leao

He's not yet 20 but Rafael Leao has reportedly attracted the attention of Manchester City, while he has been dubbed the 'Portuguese Mbappe' after World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe.

The 19-year-old's goals are helping propel Lille's charge towards Champions League group qualification - five in his past six games leaving Christophe Galtier's side second in the table behind Paris St-Germain.

Leao, who has represented Portugal at youth level, is turning into one of the shrewdest signings of last summer after arriving in northern France on a free.

He quit Sporting Lisbon after players and staff were reportedly attacked by a group of fans.

"On July 31, he obtained the status of a free player and the opportunity to recruit him was presented for Lille but also for many very good clubs that courted him," said Lille chief executive Marc Ingla.

"Rafael chose our proposal and our project and we thank him for his decision.

"He has impressive technical and physical qualities that make him one of the most attractive and promising young players in world football.

"We feel that his signature is a rather exceptional event for Lille and we are confident that the future will confirm it."

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Rafael Leao (left) is in the same Lille squad as Loic Remy, the former QPR, Newcastle, Chelsea and Crystal Palace player

French football journalist Julien Laurens: "They got Leao on a free which, for a young player of his talent, was really a bargain.

"He took his time and it was a slow start but he's really come good now in this wonderful Lille team which is second in Ligue 1.

"It's a young team and Leao fits perfectly with what they are trying to do.

"He plays on his own up front, he's strong and quick, he's a good finisher and he's only 19.

"They call him the Portuguese Mbappe. He's certainly one to keep an eye on in the future."

Source: bbc.com

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