Rodrigo might have endured a slow start to life at Elland Road but a startling statistic shows just how important he has become to Leeds United.
The Brazil-born Spain international arrived in West Yorkshire last summer on a £57,000 per week contract [spotrac] to much fanfare with the deal to bring him from Valencia considered a coup in some quarters.
Many expected him to challenge Patrick Bamford for the striker role but Marcelo Bielsa once again reminded us mere mortals to expect the unexpected.
Instead Rodrigo has lined up as one of the advanced midfielders ahead of Kalvin Phillips as the Whites have enjoyed a comfortable start to life back in the Premier League after a 16-year absence.
Sitting 11th after 23 games and playing some of the most entertaining football in the league, Bielsa and his charges have made a mockery of those who doubted their ability to transition this high-intensity football from the Championship.
They have done just that, but the relentlessness at which the team play should not detract from the undoubted star quality that has been on show.
Rodrigo is one player that has started to catch the eye of late and his importance can be shown in the statistic shown in the graphic below.
As requested @Luke_DW_Barker, Leaders in Chances Created, not counting set-pieces, per 90 from TheOther14 in the #PL season so far. @Other14The @JackGrealish top. @officialAL20 a new entry.#AVFC #LUFC #BHAFC #Wolves #FFC #EFC #LCFC #WBA #twitterclarets #NUFC #CPFC #SaintsFC pic.twitter.com/1AuqhwjQJK
— TheOther14 (@Other14The) February 17, 2021
According to ‘TheOther14‘, a Twitter account showcasing the best talent on offer from those not in the established ‘top six’, Rodrigo is among the most creative talents in the league.
Indeed outside of the so-called ‘elite’ only Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish [3.10] creates more chances per 90 than his tally of 2.08.
Wingers Jack Harrison and Raphinha also feature in the top 25 alongside Mateusz Klich but they are still a fair way from the 29-year-old’s figures.
This statistic is all the more impressive because it excludes set-piece situations so it shows just how much influence Rodrigo is having on proceedings.
Stats by Wyscout also back up the assertion that he is among the best creators in the division, such as his 0.17 ‘second assists’ per 90 which ranks him 11th in the Premier League.
This shows that even if Rodrigo is not directly involved in a goal he usually has a hand earlier in the move.
Furthermore he is in the top 10 for smart passes per 90 with 1.7 while he makes 0.77 key passes per 90 (18th in Premier League).
To add a last sprinkling to this statistical eulogising of Rodrigo he also makes 1.88 through passes per 90.
His influence is evident for all to see and this was sorely missing in the 2-1 home defeat to Everton on February 3, the first game he missed following an injury suffered against Leicester City three days earlier.
However he is now back in training and could be in contention for Friday’s night fixture at Wolves if things progress well.
While we do not want to see him breakdown with another injury Bielsa must look to include him back in the Leeds United starting XI as soon as possible.
We cannot wait to see Rodrigo return and continue his ascension in the Premier League ranks as one of the most creative talents around.
He only has one league assist to his name so far but expect that to rise substantially before the campaign draws to its conclusion.
In other Leeds United news, see our predicted XI for Friday night’s clash with Wolves.