Victor Orta has hailed the impact made by Raphinha since he joined Leeds United, despite initially viewing the winger as a “gamble”.
Raphinha arrived at Elland Road in October 2020 as the transfer deadline approached. After their return to Premier League football, he was seen as an ideal addition to ensure they raised their quality. The winger wasn’t their top target, but made a significant impact.
The Brazilian’s debut season in England ended with six goals and nine assists from 30 league appearances. He proved himself as a smart signing and is already attracting interest from the league’s top teams.
But Leeds have him under contract until 2024 and will be keen to keep him for as long as possible.
Reflecting on the players they brought in last summer, Leeds director of football Orta explained why the signing of Raphinha was “special” in an interview with OneFootball.
“Raphinha is a special case,” Orta said. “He has been brilliant from the moment he touched this club.
“But it wasn’t easy because he arrived in the last few days of the transfer window, really nervous and honestly, he didn’t have a lot of time to decide.
“We saw an opportunity late on and gambled – just like he did with us – and hopefully this is the beginning of something beautiful.”
Orta also spoke positively about the impact made by attacker Rodrigo Moreno and defenders Robin Koch and Diego Llorente.
“Rodrigo Moreno – you can imagine the market for him in Spain, where he has played his whole life. To come to England is a big change but he believed in our project.
“There were some hard moments which is normal. But when you watch him, his quality is clear – this is the type of player you want at your club.
“I also want to highlight Robin Koch and Diego Llorente, who we are also really happy with and I’m sure will be great again next season, with a smoother adaptation period and injuries behind them.”
Orta makes Bamford joke
But one of Leeds’ best players in the 2020-21 season was someone that had already been at the club. Patrick Bamford.
The striker provided an emphatic answer to those who questioned whether he could succeed at Premier League level. Only Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah and Bruno Fernandes bettered his 17 goals in the division.
Unfortunately for Bamford, he missed out on the England squad for Euro 2020. However, he could be happy with the way he performed across the season to silence the doubters.
Orta said the former Chelsea man “deserved” his achievements, but made a joke about taking the blame when things don’t go to plan.
“You know what? I feel really upset,” Orta quipped. “Because in the past, if something bad happened the blame would be 50% Victor Orta and 50% Patrick Bamford – but now I’m taking 100%!
“He deserves this moment because when you work hard through difficult moments, taking criticism and judgements along the way, it’s not easy. But I always felt that he believed in his talent.
“I feel really happy for him, for his family, for his environment, and now he can truly enjoy the good moments knowing he has beaten some difficult ones.”