Marcelo Bielsa has told Pablo Hernandez he still has a big part to play for Leeds in the Premier League this season, despite growing claims he is heading for the exit door at Elland Road this summer.
Hernandez is a hugely popular figure in West Yorkshire and is regarded as United’s best signing in the last 20 years.
After playing a leading role in their promotion to the Premier League, he has found himself on the periphery this season.
According to reports, Hernandez was approached by Castellon over a return to Spain in January.
However, while Leeds rejected the move, the Segunda Liga strugglers are expected to make a fresh move in the summer. Hernandez is a part-owner of the club and his exit would come as no surprise.
In the meantime, Hernandez remains part of Bielsa’s thinking. Leeds play Crystal Palace at home on Monday night and the 35-year-old will hope for a rare start in the absence of injured club record signing Rodrigo.
When asked about Hernandez’s limited game time, Bielsa insisted he always picks the best team for the task in hand.
“I always act in the way I’m about to tell you, that I’ve said many times, and I have no difficulty in explaining it once more.
“If I didn’t think Pablo had the same possibilities as his team-mates, and specifically those who play in his position, I wouldn’t have wanted him to be a part of the group, especially because we’re a group of few players.
“I wouldn’t have picked a player to be part of the squad if I didn’t think he offered solutions.”
Rodrigo missed Wednesday night’s home defeat to Everton due to a muscular injury. Hernandez was again named among the substitutes.
Hernandez became the first player in the club’s history to be voted fans’ player of the year for three successive seasons last summer.
But he has been limited to 10 league appearances and just two starts since Leeds won promotion.
“After the season goes by, game-by-game, I take decisions,” Bielsa said.
“I have no certainty the decisions I take are the best ones. But I take them by closely evaluating the situation.”
Mills believes Hernandez is finished at Leeds
Pundit Danny Mills, a former Leeds player, claims it would be no surprise to see Hernandez leave Elland Road.
“Time caught up with him a little bit last season,” Mills told Football Insider.
“There were times when he was out injured for periods and when he came back in it was off the bench.
“It happens to us all, unfortunately. As you enter the twilight of his career, injuries get harder to get over.
“The game isn’t slowing down in any way shape or form at the moment. The game is constantly getting quicker and quicker all the time.
“That’s just how it is, you have to deal with that accordingly.
“As you get to that age it does get harder and harder in those situations.”