Raphinha on the bench: Marcelo Bielsa explains reason behind dropping Leeds star

Raphinha, Leeds v Arsenal, December 2021

Marcelo Bielsa insists Raphinha has been dropped for tactical reasons only after the Leeds United boss explained his thinking for benching his star Brazilian in Sunday’s game against Manchester United.

The Brazilian has elevated his status to new levels after starring for Brazil in recent months. As such, it is no surprise to see Leeds looking to reward their star man with a bumper new deal.

And while Raphinha still has over two years still left on his current deal, the Yorkshire club want to extend his stay and make him their highest earner in the process.

That said, a worrying report on Wednesday suggested he has twice ignored offers from Leeds to open talks on his future.

However, the Yorkshire Evening Post are adamant that Leeds remain hopeful of securing a new deal for their star man.

They claim that, contrary to the reports, talks between them and his agent Deco remain ongoing.

Even so, Raphinha’s form for Leeds has been far lower than his own usual high standards lately. He missed a great chance to score in the recent defeat to Newcastle, following that up with an almost anonymous display in the match at Aston Villa.

Raphinha then found himself hooked at half-time in last weekend’s disappointing 3-0 loss at Everton.

All the same, it comes as a huge surprise to see Raphinha left out of the starting line-up for Sunday’s game against Manchester United.

Forshaw in, Raphinha out for Leeds

With Adam Forshaw brought back into the midfield, it still comes as a shock to see their eight-goal top scorer on the bench.

Explaining the decision to bench him, Bielsa offered a simple explanation to Sky Sports.

“I thought it would be better for the players selected in this game and that is where the decision comes from,” he said.

Raphinha contract talks continue with Chelsea, Liverpool and Bayern interested

Raphinha contract talks continue as Leeds United fear Chelsea, Liverpool and Bayern will try to sign the winger

Asked about what to expect from the game, Bielsa continued: “Tactically, you won’t expect to see many surprises at this stage of the season from either side.

“The intensity and being convinced is a factor that determines everything.”

On the crowd and whether they can lift his players, Bielsa concluded: “Of course there’s a reason to increase our desire.”

Jamie Redknapp claims Leeds need a result

Jamie Redknapp, meanwhile, claims Leeds need to pick something up against Manchester United in the wake of some surprise results on Saturday.

Indeed, with Watford winning at Villa and Burnley beating Brighton, Leeds suddenly find themselves back under pressure.

“It’s imperative both sides get a result today,” Redknapp said.

“From Man Utd’s point of view, when you have to sit back and watch other sides get good results – Arsenal and Tottenham had good wins – it puts that little bit of extra pressure on you.

“Especially for Leeds as well. You are suddenly looking over your shoulder. What Burnley did yesterday was incredible and it shocked everybody down at the bottom. Newcastle picked up a good point and there was Watford’s win at Aston Villa as well.

“It’s been an incredible weekend so far at the top and the bottom and it feels like a day where you don’t want to get beat.”

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