Diego Llorente made a triumphant return from the injury that’s limited his appearances at Leeds United to just a solitary one off the bench.
Llorente played 45 minutes for the Under-23s against Stoke on Monday and not only got through it unscathed but impressed massively at both ends of the pitch.
He looked sharp, composed and the star of the show, despite other first-team players like Kalvin Phillips, Tyler Roberts, Helder Costa and Ian Poveda starting.
He almost scored the opening goal from about 40 yards out with a fierce shot that just dipped over the bar.
Then he scored with a header from a Phillips cross and that goal turned out to be the match-winner.
🔥 Diego Llorente returns! pic.twitter.com/iq3cHBUFob
— Leeds United (@LUFC) January 18, 2021
Llorente went off after 45 minutes but that was a planned substitution and his return has to be seen as a huge boost for Leeds, who have suffered problems at the back in the Premier League.
Llorente return a massive boost for Leeds
Leeds fans were rightly excited when Llorente signed over the summer.
A full Spain international, he showed Leeds fans what he can do in the October international break.
Lining up alongside Man City’s Eric Garcia at the heart of Luis Enrique’s defence, Llorente impressed, keeping Cristiano Ronaldo at bay in a 0-0 draw.
However, before he could do the same in a Leeds shirt, he was injured. His return was short-lived, coming on for the injured Robin Koch ahead of schedule.
That backfired, with Llorente picking up another injury that’s kept him out until now.
Bielsa hasn’t rushed him back this second time. He said he wanted him to play for the Under-23s before playing for the first team and he was on the bench for the game against Brighton.
However, Bielsa was on the sidelines at Thorp Arch yesterday and he will have been impressed as us by what he saw.
We’re almost certain that Llorente will now get his full debut for the club in the game against Newcastle next Tuesday.
That will mean Llorente and Cooper finally getting to build a partnership that – with Koch out – is likely going to see Leeds through the rest of the season.
Much has been made of Leeds’ leaky defence this season but far less has been said about two senior centre backs being out.
Llorente could be the difference-maker for Leeds.
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