Helder Costa appears to no longer be part of Marcelo Bielsa’s long-term strategy at Leeds after the winger’s loan to Valencia granted the LaLiga side a key transfer clause.
The Portuguese winger has moved to Spain after being phased out of Bielsa’s plans at Leeds. He joined on an initial loan from Wolves in summer 2019, a deal that became a permanent £16m one last summer.
Bielsa put a lot of trust in Costa initially. He made 43 appearances as Leeds won the Championship title. And he started in Bielsa’s line-up as Leeds began life in the Premier League with a 4-3 loss at Liverpool and then a 4-3 home win over Fulham. Indeed, he netted twice in that win over the Cottagers at Elland Road.
However, he was to score only once more that season – in a defeat at Arsenal. Ultimately, the signing of Raphinha saw the Portuguese star lose his place in Bielsa’s line-up.
Now the arrival of Daniel James in a £25m deal from Manchester United has seen his chances fade further. Leeds also have talented teenage winger Crysencio Summerville nearing a first-team breakthrough at Elland Road.
As such, Costa was deemed surplus to requirements in West Yorkshire. And having moved to the Mestalla, Costa’s loan until the end of the season also contains an option for the Spanish side to make the deal permanent.
While Leeds have not revealed what that fee will be, reports in Spain suggest Valencia have paid a €2m loan fee to Leeds and have the option to make it a permanent €10m deal next summer.
According to Spanish radio station Tribuna Deportiva, Valencia will also pay a portion of Costa’s wages this season. They claim Costa earns €3m a year at Elland Road – around £45,000 a week – with Leeds continuing to pay half of that during his season on loan.
However, it seems his time at Elland Road looks to be over. Even if Valencia don’t take up their option to make the move permanent, it seems unlikely at this stage he’ll be seen in a Leeds shirt again.
In a short statement to confirm his exit, Leeds sent Costa their best wishes on their website.
“We thank Helder for all of his efforts during his time at Leeds to date and we wish him well for the rest of the season,” it read.
Costa wasn’t the only deadline day exit at Leeds with Robbie Gotts and Jordan Stevens both moving to Barrow.
Daniel James explains Leeds move
James, meanwhile, has explained why he did not think twice when the chance to sign for Leeds emerged again this summer.
“It’s been a whirwind for me, I’m very grateful to the club. They wanted me from two and a half years ago and I’m delighted it’s done.
“There’s always been interest since I nearly signed from Swansea, and it all just happened quickly in the last day or two. It all happened very fast, this is where I want to be moving forward.
“It feels brilliant to be here. There’s been some jokes made in the boardroom [about the events of January 2019] and it’s actually done now. This feels a lot like deja vu, but it’s all done now. I’m delighted though that’s it over the line. I can’t wait for that first game against Liverpool.”
He added: “For me and my football career it’s the right decision. I’ve had an unbelievable time and made some great friends at Man United. But for me, it was the right time to move on.
“[Marcelo] Bielsa is a top manager, it’s always nice to be wanted by him. It’s one of the big reasons why I’m here today.”