At £27m, Rodrigo became the record signing for Leeds United over the summer.
However, a brush with Covid saw him drop out of the team and he’s struggling to get back into the starting XI.
He’s been on the bench for the last two games and that’s coincided with two brilliant performances for Leeds, against Arsenal and Everton.
And Yorkshire Evening Post journalist Graham Smyth has said that he thinks Rodrigo will be benched again on Saturday for the game against Chelsea.
Talking on the latest episode of the Inside Elland Road podcast, Joe Urquhart and Smyth were discussing the starting XI for Saturday’s game.
“Do you change a winning team after one of the best performances of the year?” Urquhart said.
“Alioski has played in probably the two best performances this season, against Villa and Everton. Unless injuries force his hand I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same lineup.”
Smyth agreed but said that a player of Rodrigo’s ability wouldn’t be happy being on the bench.
“The defensive effort you get from Alioski and Harrison on that side, I think that might tip the balance and keep him [Alioski] in the side.
“But, when you’ve got Rodrigo on the bench, what an option that is. We know Bielsa isn’t averse to a half-time change so he’s an option to bring on and he’s got that game-changing ability.
“He’s not going to be happy being on the bench, a player of his calibre, and he’s going to want to push himself back into the team.
“Long-term I can’t see him being an option off the bench, he’s going to be a guaranteed starter. But it’s not bad when a £27m man can’t get into the team because they’re playing so well.”
Rodrigo has to start for us
We could see this going either way.
Chelsea is a very different test to Arsenal and Everton. They’re a genuine top-four side and will be looking to win the Premier League this season.
Bielsa is very loyal to his players and doesn’t like tinkering with his starting XI but he’s not averse to making big calls and Rodrigo was looking sensational before he got ill.
He’ll be 100% fit now, after two cameo appearances for Leeds and a run-out with the Under-23s.
Can you really afford to leave one of your best players – and the highest paid, on a reported £57k-a-week – on the bench for a trip to Stamford Bridge?
We’d stick Stuart Dallas at left-back and bring Rodrigo back in from the start – it would be harsh on Alioski but we believe that’s the strongest starting XI for Leeds at the moment.
However, we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Bielsa put out the same starting XI if there are no fresh injuries.
It would be hard to really take issue with that either after the 1-0 win against Everton.
If it happens then we’d love to Rodrigo to make a big impact from the bench.
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