Upon their return to the Premier League, Leeds United smashed their transfer record in signing Spanish attacker Rodrigo from Valencia for £26million.
It was the most money Leeds had spent on a player since 2000. The Whites signed Rio Ferdinand from West Ham for £18m, making him the world’s most expensive defender.
Given the fee and his record of 59 goals in 220 games for Valencia, it was a transfer met by mixed reviews.
The signing was made as a statement of intent from the board after the 16-year exodus. Having reached the halfway point of the season, MOT Leeds News decided to look at if the record transfer is living up to his billing.
A lack of goalscoring threat
In his 18 appearances this season for Leeds, Rodrigo’s return simply hasn’t been up to scratch.
The Spaniard has scored just three times and assisted none in the Premier League. Most notably his goal in the 1-1 draw at Elland Road with Manchester City.
Rodrigo’s other goals came in 5-2 and 5-0 thrashings of Newcastle and West Brom. Overall, he’s found the target with just 31% of his efforts on goal [Wyscout].
However, there are some promising attacking stats. Rodrigo’s two ‘second assists’ are bettered only by six Premier League players. He also has 57% of his dribbles successful, which puts him around the same level as Jarrod Bowen and Bukayo Saka.
You’d be forgiven for expecting more than three goal involvements after half a season from your record signing. As an attacker, you’re always going to be merited on your goals and assists return.
Buying into Bielsa-ball
Everyone in the Leeds United XI is expected to work tirelessly and run for the full 90 minutes of football.
Despite starting 16 Premier League games thus far, Rodrigo has completed a full 90 just three times. He’s played in 936 minutes of a possible 1140 in the matches he’s been involved in.
During this time, he’s averaging one interception and 3.46 recoveries per 90 minutes with 72.2% of those recoveries in the opposition’s half, so it can be argued that he is closing down intensely as Bielsa asks of his players.
Despite appearing in the majority of Leeds’ Premier League fixtures, Rodrigo is yet to really set the competition alight.
Having signed a four-year deal there certainly still is time for him to turn it around, but it’s been a lacklustre start to life at Elland Road to say the least.
In other Leeds news, this man deserves more credit for his performances this season.