Former Leeds United defender Danny Mills has backed Raphinha to emerge a better player next season at Elland Road if he can build up his ‘robustness’.
Raphinha, 24, joined the Whites in October last year for an undisclosed fee reported to be in the region of £17 million. The Brazilian has made a positive contribution, with 24 starts among 28 Premier League appearances. He has chipped in with six goals and scored the winner as Leeds beat Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage in March.
The South American has helped the West Yorkshire outfit enjoy a solid season back in the top flight. Ahead of Sunday’s fixture they sat tenth in the table with 53 points from 36 games played.
Any thoughts of a quick return to the Championship were over many weeks ago. And they have an excellent chance of securing a top-10 finish after 16 years way from England’s top division.
Mills played 141 times for Leeds during a four-year stint at the club. The former England defender is a big fan of Raphinha.
And he believes that a solid debut campaign in the top flight will prove important for the challenges to come.
“He’s had his first season in the Premier League now it’s about building that robustness to play at that level week in, week out,” he told Football Insider. “The experience of this season will stand him in good stead for next year.”
Raphinha learning the Bielsa way
Manager Marcelo Bielsa has been widely praised for the work he has done at the club. While fellow promoted teams Fulham and West Brom have slipped back to the Championship, Leeds have looked at home.
Marcelo Bielsa praises Leeds personality in City win
Marcelo Bielsa says his team 'deserved to win' as Leeds beat Manchester City 2-1 after going down to 10 men before half-time.
The challenge now will be to stave off the so-called ‘second-season syndrome’. Bielsa’s method is to ensure his charges are as fit as possible.
Raphinha recently missed a few games due to injury while his goal production has dipped. And Mills feels that he will better be able to cope with the physicality of playing for the Argentinian next term.
“We’ve talked about it many times, Bielsa almost works his teams to death at times,” he added. “They are incredibly fit but it does mean, from time to time, new players who aren’t as used to it are going to break down and are going to pick up little injuries.
“After a season you’d expect those little bumps in the road to be ironed out and he can have a real good tilt at it next season.”