Man Utd & Real Madrid target Rafael Leao says Ronaldo is the best in the world and the example to follow

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A teenage talent on the books of Portuguese side Sporting is hoping to tread a similar career path to a man who now has five Ballons d'Or to his name

An exciting Sporting academy graduate with a career being mapped out at Manchester United and Real Madrid. Sound familiar?

Well, a path once trodden by none other than Cristiano Ronaldo could soon welcome a new traveller.

Rafael Leao is the latest teenage sensation to emerge in Lisbon, with the 18-year-old forward seeing his undoubted potential recognised within the Goal 50 NxGn.

The precociously-talented Portugal U21 international is already drawing links to the likes of United and Real and admits that he is hoping to follow the lead of a man who now boasts five Ballons d’Or.

Leao told Goal when asked to name those he is seeking to emulate: "I really like Bas Dost, who talks a lot to me in practice and gives me lots of advice. I learn a lot from him about the making of goals.

“Gelson Martins is also a benchmark for me, he does incredible things with the ball at his feet.

“But I think the best in the world is Cristiano Ronaldo, who has made a successful career with a lot of hard work and, like me, came through the Sporting academy and is a great example to follow.”

While Leao has every right to aim for the stars, he is aware that illustrious figures such as Ronaldo currently operate in a different sporting galaxy.

He is taking his first tentative steps towards the top, but acknowledges that there have been plenty of highly-rated talents before him who failed to scale the heights expected of them.

Leao added on his future challenges: “I know that I have a lot to learn and that my attitude and commitment are fundamental to me achieving my dreams. I'm still young and I am not in a hurry to do so.

Rafael Leao NxGn

“I am in the right place, I take my work seriously and the coach [Jorge Jesus] and the whole structure of Sporting give me support. My more experienced colleagues also give me a lot of advice, which I try to follow, as do my parents, brothers and cousins.

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“There are a lot of cases where things have not gone well for other youngsters, and I do not want to become another statistic. Just because I've already played in the first team does not mean that I know everything.

“I thank God for the opportunity that Jorge Jesus has given me with the first team, but I cannot forget the other coaches I had during my training, such as Joao Couto, Tiago Fernandes and Luís Martins - all of them were important.”

Leao made his senior debut for Sporting in February 2018 and scored his first goal in a derby date with Porto on March 2 which saw him become the youngest scorer in the history of that illustrious fixture.

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