Pundit calls for shock Leeds recall after claiming Raphinha could be axed

Raphinha, Leeds at West Ham

A controversial pundit has sensationally called for Leeds to consider dropping one of Raphinha or Jack Harrison and giving Ian Poveda a run in the Leeds side.

Brazilian star Raphinha has been in sensational form for United this season and looks to be one of the bargains of the season. He has five goals and five assists from 23 appearances this season. Indeed, his form has seen him linked with the likes of Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Barcelona.

However, his last goal involvement for the club came four matches ago on February 23. That was when Raphinha rattled home a smart free-kick in a 3-0 win over Southampton.

However, he’s not the only Leeds wide man struggling right now. It’s a similar story with Jack Harrison and Helder Costa, with Leeds drawing blanks in their last three games.

With all that in mind, Gabriel Agbonlahor has called for Marcelo Bielsa to hand Poveda a recall against Fulham on Friday night. The former Man City man appeared well in favour earlier in the season until an ankle injury curtailed his progress.

However, the 21-year-old returned to action with the Under-23s last week against Wolves. He then stepped up his comeback with another 45 minutes for Mark Jackson’s youngsters against Newcastle on Monday.

And speaking to Football Insider, Agbonlahor gave a firm verdict when asked if it is time to pitch Poveda back in.

Pep: World’s best Bielsa perfect for Poveda

Pep Guardiola says Marcelo Bielsa is arguably the world’s best coach when it comes to developing players after Manchester City youngster Ian Poveda joined Leeds on loan.

“Yes. They [Raphina, Harrison and Costa] have been quite poor. Raphinha hasn’t been himself in the last couple of games and the rest of the wingers haven’t turned up.

“Harrison was brought off early again [against Chelsea]. It’s fair to give another player like Poveda a chance.

“I’m sure Bielsa will be quite fair with his squad and if a player isn’t performing he’ll make changes.”

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Bielsa gives Rodrigo his backing

Bielsa, meanwhile, has expressed his sorrow that Leeds are yet to see record-signing Rodrigo Moreno at his consistent best this season.

The Spain striker signed in a £27.1m deal from Valencia this summer and has endured an indifferent first season at Elland Road.

At his best, Rodrigo has been an excellent addition to the side. However, a series of injuries – as well as a lay-off with the coronvirus – have curtailed his game-time.

Speaking ahead of Friday’s match with Fulham, Bielsa has admitted a small injury looks set to sideline the forward again.

However, Bielsa has launched a passionate defence of the player.

Rodrigo Moreno, Leeds

“To explain exactly, Rodrigo arrived at the start of the competition with no pre-season for us,” Bielsa said. “It took him four weeks to become a starter and after playing his best game, which was against Aston Villa, then he became sick. He was ill for 20 days, then after that to get back to his best state took him a month.

“He played 10-12 games at a medium to high level then picked up that injury which he was out for five weeks with.

“And perhaps this segment where he didn’t play for 40 days was too quick [with his return]. “He’s a player that gets his best physcial state by gradually increasing the minutes. He played 45 mins with the U23s. Then 45 mins against West Ham and against Chelsea who is one of the teams who has the biggest rhythm in the league alongside City.

“I had to bring him back earlier because my estimate is that he shouldn’t have played more than 50 minutes.”

Despite that, Bielsa has hinted that Rodrigo, when 100% fit, is one of the first names on his teamsheet.

“He becomes a starter when he’s in a good state of form. When he has been without playing for over a month his return is not instant. We have seen what he is a capable of. He is a great striker that when he finds his best form.”

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