Marcel Desailly believes Rafael Leao must become "ruthless" and "forge his character" following comparisons between the Milan winger and Thierry Henry.

Leao, directly involved in 10 of the Rossoneri's 29 Serie A goals this season (scoring six and assisting four), opened his Portugal tally in their World Cup win over Ghana on Thursday.

Desailly won the Champions League and two Scudetti during his five-year stint at Milan between 1993 and 1998 - the same year he was a team-mate of Henry's in France's first World Cup triumph.

When asked if he thought Leao was similar to Henry, whose national record tally of 51 goals was equalled by Olivier Giroud in Les Bleus' victory over Australia on Tuesday, the former defender told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "Calm down.

"It seems to me that Leao became a star before he even became a star. He has enormous potential, but he doesn't give me the idea of being ruthless. I ask Leao to forge his character."

Meanwhile, Desailly praised another Milan player in compatriot Theo Hernandez, who appeared as a substitute in France's 4-1 triumph over the Socceroos and could remain at full-back for the remainder of the World Cup following injury to his brother Lucas.

"Theo Hernandez can become the strongest in the world," he added. "He is a chameleon, he has the ability to change his function within the team."

Having regained the Serie A crown last season, Stefano Pioli's side are eight points adrift of leaders Napoli after the opening 15 matches in the Italian top flight.

The Partenopei are unbeaten so far in their quest for a first Scudetto since the 1989-90 season, but Desailly does not believe they will maintain their momentum throughout the campaign.

"I love Napoli’s energy," he said. "But I doubt they can hold on psychologically until the end. They don't have the squad to hold up."

Marcel Desailly has labelled Paul Pogba a "lazy" player who tends to shy away from his defensive responsibilities for Manchester United.

France international Pogba was left out of United's starting line-up for Tuesday's clash with Atletico Madrid and only played the final 23 minutes of the last-16 tie. Atleti progressed 2-1 on aggregate thanks to Renan Lodi's first-half header.

Interim manager Ralf Rangnick instead opted for Scott McTominay and Fred in midfield, with Pogba and Nemanja Matic later arriving from the substitutes' bench.

Pogba's absence as one of three changes from last weekend's 3-2 win against Tottenham came as a surprise given he had started United's past five matches in all competitions.

However, fellow World Cup winner Desailly felt Rangnick was justified in leaving out Pogba.

"Quality-wise, you cannot compare Pogba to Fred, McTominay or Matic," Desailly told beIN SPORTS ahead of the game. 

"But he's lazy. If you allow him to be a playmaker behind [Cristiano] Ronaldo he can take advantage of it. 

"When it goes well, he's fantastic. When it doesn't go well, offensively he hasn't brought what everyone was expecting.

"At the same time he cheats a little bit and doesn't drop back to help with the midfield defensively."

Pogba's arrival in the second half could not inspire United as they slumped out of the Champions League and saw their last chance of silverware this season slip from their grasp.

It was Pogba's 23rd appearance of the season, with the 29-year-old having missed an extended period through injury.

While Pogba's defensive work was questioned by Desailly, the midfielder's creativity should not be doubted – only Bruno Fernandes (13) has more assists this term than his nine.

He is due to be out of contract at the end of the campaign and has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and former club Juventus.

United have now been eliminated from six of their last eight Champions League knockout ties, having won 13 of the previous such 16 in the competition.

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