AC Milan star Rafael Leao has thanked Portugal teammate Bruno Fernandes for providing the assist which saw him score on his World Cup debut.

The former Lille forward is reportedly on Manchester United’s radar, according to ESPN, with Erik ten Hag seeing the Portuguese youngster as an alternative to PSV Eindhoven star Cody Gakpo.

Like Gakpo and his compatriot Joao Felix, who has also attracted interest from the Red Devils, Leao also scored on his World Cup debut.

The 23-year-old netted three minutes after coming off the bench against Ghana on Thursday night.

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Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images

Like for Felix, it was Manchester United’s Portuguese magnifico who provided the assist for Leao’s first World Cup goal.

Rafael Leao thanks Bruno Fernandes after scoring on World Cup debut

Such was the weight of Fernandes’ perfectly timed pass; Milan’s number 17 guided the ball into the far bottom corner to score his first goal for the Selecao.

Leao and Fernandes exchanged messages on Instagram following Portugal’s 3-2 win against Ghana with United’s number eight making a tongue in cheek comment about Leao not showing enough gratitude for his role in the youngster’s first international senior goal.

Fernandes commented on Leao’s Instagram post: “You don’t have to thank me”.

The 12-time Portugal international responded: “Thanks my boss”.

Team Arrival - Portugal
Photo by Tullio Puglia – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

From 20 matches for Milan this season, Leao has scored seven goals and provided nine assists.

Leao scored 14 goals and laid on 12 assists last season and his contributions were vital in the Rossoneri winning their first Scudetto in 11 years.

Like Felix, Leao is another youngster who is ready to carry the Portugal torch from Cristiano Ronaldo when the 37-year-old eventually calls time on a glittering career.

Leao played alongside Fernandes four times for Sporting Lisbon before making the move to Ligue 1 giants Lille in 2018.

Gakpo may well be Ten Hag’s preferred forward target, but like Felix – Leao already has an established and seemingly thriving relationship and understanding with United’s chief creator Fernandes.

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