Leeds United

Leeds United

Premier League • England

Marcelo Bielsa influence clear as pundit makes ‘real deal’ claim over Leeds star

James Holland
Rodrigo Leeds

Leeds United hero Jermaine Beckford has lauded £26million forward Rodrigo for his recent improvement in the Premier League.

The 30-year-old became Leeds’ record signing in August last year when leaving Valencia for Elland Road. He arrived with plenty of hype but only managed seven league goals in his debut season, as a result of injuries and tactical teething problems.

Rodrigo’s struggles continued at the start of the new campaign, coinciding with the team’s poor run of form. But his goal in the 1-1 draw with Wolves on October 23 has turned his fortunes around.

The Spain international got on the scoresheet again during the 2-1 victory over Norwich City. He caused Leicester’s defenders all sorts of problems in the exciting draw they played out just before the international break.

Rodrigo will be hoping to keep his starting spot when Marcelo Bielsa names his team for this weekend’s game. The West Yorkshire side travel to Tottenham on Sunday at 16:30.

While appearing on Leeds’ official club podcast, Beckford was asked about Rodrigo. He pointed out the attacker’s improved fitness, which can be attributed to Bielsa’s infamous ‘Murderball’ training tactic.

“Rodrigo for me is one of those players – you can see the quality that he has, you can see the energy that he has and you can see his technical ability is brilliant,” Beckford said (via HITC).

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“I just felt his fitness levels weren’t up to scratch, but now he’s had a run of games you can see what he’s about.

“This is the Rodrigo that we signed, you’re seeing it for us and you’re also seeing it for Spain. I’m so happy for him, he’s looking the real deal now.”

TEAMtalk predicts Bielsa will stick with the same team as against Leicester, which will see Rodrigo line up in attack. Dan James, Raphinha and Jack Harrison could all be named to support him.

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Bielsa reacts to Raphinha form

Raphinha in particular is expected cause problems for Tottenham, having scored five times in the league already this season.

On the Brazilian, Bielsa told a press conference: “Another characteristic of the elite players is they are ambitious and the demands and limits they put on themselves. They don’t need an external stimulus to want them to do this.

“He is sufficiently good right now. If you ask me how I manage his evolution. I would say to maintain performances like those he is achieving would be a great indicator.

“And the other great challenge the players that shine have, is to transfer that evolution to his team-mates and to the team. Raphinha will be a lot better if the team is better and his team-mates are better.

“What I say is not a conclusion elaborated by myself, but a conclusion comes from the players who shine. They start by unbalancing alone, they manage to facilitate how their team-mates performed, and that development of the collective game improves the team. That process is a great challenge.”

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