Leeds United have got off to a thrilling start in the Premier League. They’re sitting in fifth and have picked up a new army of neutral fans thanks to Bielsa-ball.
If anyone was worried about how Leeds would fare against clubs like Liverpool and Man City, the answer is in and it’s a very satisfactory one.
But there’s one big difference from Leeds this season and the one that won the Championship at a canter last season – depth in squad.
It might not seem that way in defence at the moment, with Luke Ayling covering at centre-back and Pascal Struijk getting played in the holding midfield role, but that’s just the result of an unfortunate set of injuries.
There’s no such shortfall in attack.
In fact, Bielsa has an absolute embarrassment of riches in the top third, with Patrick Bamford one of the form strikers in the league.
Jack Harrison and Helder Costa have both enjoyed great starts to the season on the wings, with Rodrigo currently growing into the number 10 role.
They’re the solid starters and it takes a lot for Bielsa to change his line-up.
That means that Raphinha might be sat on the bench wondering what he’s got to do to get his first start.
From what we’ve seen of him so far, he looks like an incredibly talented and dangerous player.
Blink and you’ll have missed it, though. He’s only had two short cameos for the first-team so far totalling 15 minutes.
But, in one of those, he put in one of the candidates for pass of the season, through to Jack Harrison.
The pass of the PL season so far from Raphinha, the shape + weight of the pass is perfect. The body shape of Matty Cash indicates he's preparing for a ball to Harrison's feet, Raphinha has the vision to recognize the space behind Cash + the technique to then execute the pass. pic.twitter.com/qki6B0jAfz
— Ben Green (@beno_greeno) October 24, 2020
He then scored his first goal for the club in an Under-23s clash against Norwich, a game when Ian Poveda also showed he’s knocking on the door on the wings of the first-team.
🤩 Raphinhaaaaaaa!!! pic.twitter.com/VNhY6BNbXw
— Leeds United (@LUFC) October 25, 2020
He looks the real deal and we think he’s a devastating secret weapon for Bielsa.
Following his first few minutes for the first-team in the 1-0 loss to Wolves Bielsa said of him, “He showed presence in those minutes.”
In just 13 minutes in the Villa game he hit seven passes, with six finding their target, played that one beautiful defence-splitting long pass (that took about eight opposition players out) and won 100% of his duels. [WyScout]
We believe that if Raphinha gets a chance, he could displace Costa despite his fantastic start to the season.
The question is, when will he get that chance? If Leeds carry on playing the way they’re playing at the moment, he could be set for a long wait.
In other Leeds United news, ‘Trebled his value’, ‘Going to be best in world’ – Some fans react as Leeds post footage of 20yo