Helder Costa had a slow start to life as a Leeds United player.
After he was signed up on a loan-to-buy deal from Wolves in early July, it wasn’t until September 28 when Marcelo Bielsa finally handed the 26-year-old his first league start for the Yorkshire giants.
Leeds agreed a £15million permanent deal for Costa that will come to fruition at the end of the season [Daily Mail] and there have been doubts among some sections of fans that he is not worth that fee.
However the Portugal international’s latest displays are slowly but surely starting to prove that is a fair deal for Leeds.
Costa has not scored or assisted a goal for Leeds in any of his last 10 Championship appearances but he has remained a key part of Bielsa’s team this season with him appearing in every match across all competitions.
In 38 total appearances, the former Benfica winger has scored four goals and supplied four assists.
Many have criticised his lack of impact in the Leeds attack but the stats show that Costa is one of the main driving forces up front.
According to WhoScored, Costa has averaged more successful dribbles per 90 minutes  than any other player in the Leeds squad who’s made more than five league appearances.
In the 1-0 win against Middlesbrough on Wednesday night, no player on the pitch had a better pass success rate than Costa [92%], who only misplaced two passes in the entire 90 minutes.
Stats by WyScout show that only striker Patrick Bamford  and winger Jack Harrison  made more touches in the box than Costa , which is decent considering 48 per cent of Leeds’ player came down the left flank [WhoScored], opposite to Costa’s side.
If anything, Leeds’ attacks have usually been aimed down the opposite flank to which Costa plays all season and that could explain why so many fans have thought the Portugese winger to be ineffectual for large spells of the campaign.
However that could be down to the fact that Harrison has a more attack-minded full-back in support of him in either Stuart Dallas or Ezgjan Alioski.
Luke Ayling is decent going forward but is relied on a lot more defensively than Dallas or Alioski, as shown by the average position chart against Middlesbrough.
Dallas [no.15] occupied a more advanced role than Ayling [no.2] and that in turn led to Costa [no.17] having to play more narrowly and a bit less advanced than the opposite winger.
That could explain why Costa has been overlooked by so many and it could also be why he has not chipped in with so many goals and assists this season.
However only has one more goal than Costa this season and two more assists despite him starting every Championship fixture.
Not many Leeds United fans would have an issue with Harrison being signed permanently from Manchester City in the summer so why not Costa?
It is clear that he is improving each week and if Bamford was a bit more ruthless in front of goal then maybe the Portugal international’s stats will start to look a bit more impressive than they currently are.
In other Leeds United news, fans were blown away by this “underrated” player against Middlesbrough.