‘Cristiano will LOVE it!’: Joe Cole urges Portugal boss Fernando Santos to start Rafael Leao if he wants to get the best out of Ronaldo… and insists the 37-year-old NEEDS someone who can ‘get by players’ in his side’s last-16 clash with Switzerland
- Joe Cole thinks Cristiano Ronaldo needs to play next to Rafael Leao for Portugal
- The Milan star has yet to start a game for Fernando Santos’ side at the World Cup
- Santos hinted he may drop Ronaldo after his angry reaction to being substituted
- But Cole thinks Leao’s ability to ‘get by players’ would be massive for Ronaldo
- The former England star fears for Portugal’s World Cup chances without Leao
- Ronaldo and Portugal take on Switzerland in the round of 16 on Tuesday evening
Cristiano Ronaldo needs his manager Fernando Santos to start Rafael Leao for Portugal to do well at the World Cup, insists Joe Cole.
Santos hinted on Monday that he may drop Ronaldo for Portugal’s last-16 clash with Switzerland, after the 37-year-old reacted angrily to being substituted in the final group stage match against South Korea.
The forward has scored just once at the tournament so far and continues to make headlines for the wrong reasons, reportedly causing frustration within the Portugal camp.
Cristiano Ronaldo would profit from playing next to winger Rafael Leao, according to Joe Cole
Leao, who has impressed this season for AC Milan, has yet to start a game for Portugal in Qatar
Speaking ahead of Morocco’s last-16 tie with Spain, Cole urged that Ronaldo would benefit from playing alongside Leao because on his pace and strength at running in behind.
Leao, who impressed at AC Milan before travelling to Qatar, has yet to start a match for Portugal at the tournament, with Santos favouring Atletico Madrid outcast Joao Felix.
Cole warned that Portugal could struggle against Switzerland on Tuesday without Leao on the teamsheet.
‘You know what, the problem for this Portuguese team is that the manager is not picking Leao,’ the former England star told ITV.
Portugal boss Fernando Santos was furious with Ronaldo’s angry reaction to being substituted
Cole thinks that Portugal will struggle to win the World Cup without Leao in the starting line-up
‘Nuno Mendes offers pace and penetration but he’s been injured. It’s crucial to get Leao in because Ronaldo’s not going to run the other way. Bernardo Silva likes to come to feet, Bruno Fernandes likes to come to feet.
‘Although they topped their group, I think if the manager would give Leao his legs and put him in the team, he’d be explosive.
‘Cristiano will love it! He’ll have someone to take the onus off him. Someone who can run, who can dribble, get by players. I think if they start with Leao they’re a real threat. If they don’t, it could be a tough day for them.’
The two Portuguese stars are set to face-off against Switzerland in the round of 16 on Tuesday