Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa is planning a new, long-term positional change for Raphinha following the signing of Daniel James, according to a trusted source.
The Whites finally ended a two-and-a-half-year wait to land James when they paid Manchester United £25m for the winger. He has signed a five-year deal at Elland Road and he couldn’t resist a joke about his 2019 near-miss after finally signing.
James adds to the number of exciting wing options Bielsa now has at Elland Road. The Wales international is now competing with Jack Harrison and Raphinha for a spot in the side, with Helder Costa having departed for Valencia.
Accommodating all of James, Harrison and Raphinha into the Leeds side looks a tall order. However, there’s a school of thought that says Leeds could play star man Raphinha as a No 10. Leeds have lacked in that area since Pablo Hernandez’s departure. Indeed, Rodrigo Moreno has struggled to make the most of his role as a deep-lying forward at Leeds.
And while Bielsa could convert Raphinha into the position, The Athletic’s Phil Hay doesn’t think it will be an immediate adjustment.
Furthermore, he says it could take months of Bielsa coaching to realise the plan.
“We’ll wait to see if there’s any effort to convert someone like Raphinha into a 10,” he said on the Phil Hay Podcast.
“From what I can gather, that is on Bielsa’s mind. But I think it would take a heck of a lot of coaching. It would be a longer-term process.
“Raphinha doesn’t instantly look like a Bielsa in that two behind Patrick Bamford.”
Leeds warned about Kalvin Phillips sale
Leeds have been warned midfield talisman Kalvin Phillips could leave and become the final piece in the jigsaw at Manchester United if they do not significantly improve on last season’s effort.
Phillips, 25, was simply superb in his maiden season in the top flight. However, there were very few within the game that did not expect Phillips to take the Premier League in his stride.
Indeed, Phillips had already broken into Gareth Southgate’s England squad while still a Championship player.
Now a regular fixture in the Three Lions’ midfield alongside Declan Rice, Phillips continues to trend upwardly with each passing year.
But according to talkSPORT pundit Trevor Sinclair, Phillips may soon be about to outgrow his boyhood club.
“If Leeds do not really pick up this season and start threatening that top four, I think Kalvin Phillips will go,” he said.
“I was actually quite surprised that Man Utd did not have a little look at him because when you start looking at that holding midfield role, and you have got Fred, (Scott) McTominay and (Nemanja) Matic.
“For me if they have got that position right, they will have a chance at really competing for the Premier League.”