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Premier League • England

‘Great decision’ – Marcelo Bielsa hails imminent move involving ‘best player’ at Leeds Utd

Steve Pearson
Leeds United pair Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha 2021

Marcelo Bielsa labelled Raphinha the “best player” at Leeds United “in all senses”, and hailed the news that new contracts are looming for the Brazilian and one more important player.

Amid a campaign of uncertainty, Brazilian Raphinha has continued to shine brightest where those around him have faltered. The 25-year-old remains Leeds’ most potent attacking threat, though his sparkling 18 months at Elland Road has begun to make the transfer rumour mill spin.

Raphinha was the subject of speculation linking him to Bayern Munich over Christmas. He has also regularly been linked with Liverpool and PSG. But thankfully for Leeds fans, the Mirror reported last week that Raphinha will not be sold this month.

Instead, plans are afoot over a contract extension that would further safeguard Leeds’ position in the market.

Now, speaking in his Friday press conference (via LeedsLive), Bielsa welcomed that news with open arms. In doing so, the Argentine also explained why Raphinha is the “best player” at the club in every aspect.

“I think it’s a great decision,” said Bielsa of Leeds’ plan to offer a contract extension. “Raphinha is the best player in the team in all the senses – physically he’s the best, technically he’s at the level of the best and the interpretation he has of the game is very good, very wise.

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“[He is] within the group of such a powerful nation of Brazil. He shines in the Premier League and he has the attention of all the big clubs in the world.

“All of those things is something you guys know just as much as me. Nothing that I’m saying is new. As a result the decision of the club can only be valued.”


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Bielsa pays huge tribute to Adam Forshaw

Another important player who could soon pen fresh terms is Adam Forshaw. The central midfielder has surpassed all expectation this season after overcoming a near-two-year injury hell with a persistent hip issue.

Forshaw has shouldered the responsibility in the engine room since Kalvin Phillips suffered a hamstring injury. And like Raphinha, the 30-year-old too is in line for a new deal.

Bielsa paid a heartfelt tribute to Forshaw for the tireless work he has put in to return to fitness. Furthermore, he claimed Leeds would be pulling off a shrewd piece of business if the midfielder commits his future to the club.

Bielsa said: “Very difficult for me to refer myself to Forshaw, in this moment where he’s given such a valuable response. Because I didn’t know Forshaw was going to be the player he was once before.

“I don’t want it to seem like the process Forshaw went through wasn’t with my support. He did it by himself with all the support the club gave him which was a big support but I didn’t participate in his success, I only accompanied him.

“And when the moment came I gave the responses he deserved to play, but in the important part of those two years I wasn’t there with him so I don’t want to link myself too much to him because I don’t want to impose on his success.

“The club will make a very convenient decision if they extend Forshaw. Every week he’s showing he’s a player of a very good level.”

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