Cristiano Ronaldo NEEDS Fernando Santos to start Rafael Leao for Portugal, insists Joe Cole

‘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 past players’ in his team’s last 16 match with Switzerland

  • Joe Cole believes Cristiano Ronaldo must play alongside Rafael Leao for Portugal
  • The Milan star is yet to start a game for Fernando Santo’s side at the World Cup
  • Santos hinted he may drop Ronaldo after his angry reaction to being substituted
  • But Cole believes Leao’s ability to “get past players” would be huge for Ronaldo
  • The former England star fears for Portugal’s World Cup chances without Leao
  • Ronaldo and Portugal meet 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 in the tournament so far and continues to make headlines for the wrong reasons, which has reportedly caused frustration in the Portugal camp.

Cristiano Ronaldo would benefit from playing alongside winger Rafael Leao, according to Joe Cole

Leao, who has impressed this season for AC Milan, is yet to start a match for Portugal in Qatar

Leao, who has impressed this season for AC Milan, is yet to start a match for Portugal in Qatar

Ahead of Morocco’s last-16 clash with Spain, Cole urged that Ronaldo would benefit from playing alongside Leao because of his pace and strength to run in behind.

Leao, who impressed at AC Milan before traveling to Qatar, is yet to start a game for Portugal at the tournament, with Santos favoring Atletico Madrid outcast Joao Felix.

Cole warned Portugal could struggle against Switzerland on Tuesday without Leao in the squad.

“You know what, the problem for this Portuguese team is that the manager doesn’t pick Leao,” the former England star told ITV.

Portugal boss Fernando Santos was furious with Ronaldo's angry reaction to being substituted

Portugal boss Fernando Santos was furious with Ronaldo’s angry reaction to being substituted

Cole believes that Portugal will struggle to win the World Cup without Leao in the starting line-up

Cole believes that Portugal will struggle to win the World Cup without Leao in the starting line-up

Nuno Mendes offers pace and penetration but he has been injured. It is crucial to get Leao in because Ronaldo is not going to run the other way. Bernardo Silva likes to get on his feet, Bruno Fernandes likes to get on his feet.

“Even if they topped their group, I think if the manager would give Leao his legs and put him in the team, he would be explosive.

“Cristiano will love it! He wants someone to shoulder the burden. Someone who can run, who can dribble, get past players. I think if they start with Leao they are a real threat. If they don’t, it could be a tough day for them.

The two Portuguese stars will face Switzerland in the round of 16 on Tuesday

The two Portuguese stars will face Switzerland in the round of 16 on Tuesday

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