Marcelo Bielsa has spoken about Raphinha’s impressive adaptation to life at Leeds – but having listed the Brazilian’s best qualities, has challenged the player to improve in one area.
The Whites travel to the London Stadium on Monday evening for a game against high-flying West Ham. It’s a match Bielsa knows won’t be easy for Leeds. As such, Bielsa has named the two Hammers stars who have caught his eye this season.
However, Leeds have a matchwinner of their own in Brazilian winger Raphinha.
Mesmeric winger Raphinha has proved a class above for the Whites this season. His form since a £17m move from Rennes this summer has captured the hearts of Leeds fans – and won the Brazilian an army of admirers in the process.
This week it was suggested that he could be in line for an immediate payrise at Elland Road. That’s after his form caught the eye of some of the world’s top clubs.
Bielsa, of course, leaves the financial side of things to chief executive Angus Kinnear and director of football Victor Orta.
The Argentine’s job is simply making his players the best they can be. And Bielsa knows he has a special talent in Raphinha, having listed the parts of his game he’s good at.
Speaking about his qualities, Bielsa said: “What Raphinha is able to create is special. After that, we need to see whether he can do it on a regular basis. The set-pieces, he manages them very well. Physically, he’s very apt.
“He can unbalance individually or combine with his teammates. I can’t think of many more things to add to an attacking player, but the most important thing is how many times those resources are shown in every game.”
Leeds will be hoping Kalvin Phillips, Rodrigo Moreno and Jamie Shackleton will be fit for the game. Bielsa, however, remained unsure if they’d be available.
“It all depends how they evolve in the following days,” he said.
Bamford cracks Haaland joke
Patrick Bamford, meanwhile, has joked that he would “embrace the competition” amid unserious suggestions that Norway striker Erling Haaland is hoping to sign for Leeds.
The Borussia Dortmund striker has become one of the most coveted players in Europe since last season.
After exploding onto the scene at RB Salzburg, he has not slowed down in Germany. Indeed, he has scored 43 goals in 45 games, leading to lengthy speculation about his next move.
And with Chelsea ruled out, Leeds-born Haaland, it’s been joked, could instead sign for United.
“Are you at all worried about when Haaland signs in the summer, that you’ll be fighting for your place,” Matthew Lewis asked.
But Bamford could not help but laugh, and responded: “I relish the competition!”