AC Milan monitoring Rafael Leao ahead of UCL derby

MILAN, ITALY - APRIL 23: Rafael Leao of AC Milan celebrates after scoring the team's first goal during the Serie A match between AC MIlan and US Lecce at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on April 23, 2023 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

AC Milan are paying close attention to see whether Rafael Leao will be fit for their crunch Champions League semi-final clash with Inter Milan tonight.

The Portuguese winger has faced a race against time to be fit for the first-leg against their local rivals, after he was withdrawn just 10 minutes into their 2-0 win over Lazio on Saturday with a muscle injury.

Leao was still out on the training pitch at Milanello while the rest of the AC Milan squad arrived at the team hotel on Tuesday morning.

He was still at the training ground this morning, but a video has been shared on social media which shows that he has arrived at the team hotel in what will be a promising sign for AC Milan’s supporters.

Leao is rated among the best wingers in Serie A after scoring 13 goals across all competitions this season.

He played a key role in taking Milan to the semi-finals with a brilliant performance against Napoli, who they beat 2-1 on aggregate in the last round.

Speaking to Sky Sports Italia on Tuesday, manager Stefano Pioli said: ‘Leao will continue to push tomorrow morning, if he feels well, he’ll play. It’s still all open.’

He later added that if his star winger ‘can’t start, he won’t even go on the bench.’

Leao would be a big miss for Milan if he does not recover before Wednesday, but Inter manager Simone Inzaghi claims he will not change his approach based on one player’s fitness.

‘We all know the qualities of the player,’ he said. ‘We know that he may or may not be there, clearly we will take some precautions but ultimately it will not change our game plan.’

‘I’m not certain like you (that Leao won’t be involved), I’ve said it before. We know him, we know his qualities, and in these games every player who is called upon will give everything.’

Wednesday’s game will be the first European Milan derby since 2005, and a chance for the red half of the city to reach a first final since their triumph over Liverpool in 2007.

Inter won the Champions League in 2010 after beating Bayern Munich in the final, but have not made a semi-final appearance since then.

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