Former Leeds forward Noel Whelan believes Ian Poveda’s substitute appearance against Liverpool helped him climb above Helder Costa in the pecking order of Marcelo Bielsa’s wide options.
Without star man Raphinha, who was absent through injury, Costa started on the right side of midfield in Monday night’s match against the Premier League champions. Stepping in for the Brazilian or Jack Harrison on the opposite flank has been his primary role this season. Costa went off for Poveda in the 67th minute.
Whelan believes the 21-year-old made more of an impression in his limited game time than Costa did from the start. Therefore, he feels he is the better option for Bielsa going forward when he needs to replace his first-choice wingers.
“To me after [Monday night], the short cameo that Poveda had he is ahead of Costa for me,” Whelan said on BBC Radio Leeds after the game.
“[Jack] Harrison, Raphinha, Poveda, then comes Costa.
“I look at Poveda, the way that he comes on, the desire, the directness, the skill; he did more in that time than Costa did for me. [I’m] not saying everyone out there agrees with me, but for me when he came on, he looked exciting; he looked direct.”
Poveda has made 11 Premier League appearances for the Whites this season, all of which have been from the bench.
He joined the club in January 2020 on a free transfer from Manchester City and appears to be an exciting prospect for the future.
Stuart Dallas: Marcelo Bielsa is special
Stuart Dallas discusses working under Marcelo Bielsa and just how much belief the Leeds United boss puts into his squad.
Whelan, who co-commentates for the BBC on Leeds’ games, identified his attacking intent as the key attribute he holds over Costa.
“I am getting tired of seeing Costa play backwards and sideways and not have the guts and bravery to try and take on people whether you lose the ball or not, like Poveda,” the 46-year-old added.
“He keeps going; he keeps giving it a go.”
Bielsa fury at Super League plans
Meanwhile, Bielsa has launched a fierce attack on the European Super League by stating that “the real owners of football are the ones who love the badge” and without them “football would disappear”.
Twelve clubs, including Liverpool, made the bombshell announcement on Sunday that they intend to break away and form their own competition.
Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham have also signed up. The big three in Spain and Italy make up the 12 “founding” members.
The new league has sparked uproar across the football world, with Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville both launching into the owners of Liverpool and United respectively.
Leeds made their own protest before Monday’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool. Fans of both clubs joined forces to protest outside the ground, while a T-shirt stunt from Leeds United did little to impress Jurgen Klopp.