Marcelo Bielsa’s comments in his pre-match press conference make us think that we could see the first start for Brazilian winger Raphinha in a Leeds United shirt on Sunday.
Speaking ahead of the game against Arsenal, as reported by Leeds Live, Bielsa confirmed that Rodrigo will return to action, but said, “Less likely he will start, but he will be there.”
With Pablo Hernandez suffering a muscular injury during the international break this means someone else starting in the number 10 role – and Gjanni Alioski may be out too.
Both Tyler Roberts and Raphinha will be hopeful of getting the nod but we feel it is finally time for Bielsa to unleash the Brazilian against Mikel Arteta’s side.
Following his arrival from Rennes, Bielsa suggested that Raphinha – naturally a winger – could fit into a number of different positions within his side, telling the Yorkshire Evening Post, “He is a player who is naturally very attacking, with ability to get in behind, with dribbling skills. They are virtues to attack and these are skills applicable out wide as well as in the centre.
“I won’t say that I won’t use him in any other position but fundamentally I see him as a player to play on either wing.”
The 23-year-old has a history of playing centrally and did so on a number of occasions for Rennes last season. By utilising him in this role, not only would Leeds benefit from his natural speed and dribbling ability, but also his goalscoring threat. He netted seven times for the French outfit last season in all competitions, notching five assists along the way.
On the other hand, Roberts has featured six times for Leeds this season but has only managed a WhoScored rating of 6.11 in the Premier League, meaning it could be time for Leeds fans to see more of their big-money summer signing in action.
With just two wins in their last six league outings, Arteta’s Arsenal have been struggling in recent weeks and could be there for the taking at Elland Road.
We think it’s Raphinha time.
In other Leeds United news, Robinson reacts strongly to hearing what Leeds star has said.