By George Overhill

7th Sep, 2022 | 5:10pm

BT Sport pundit identifies key factor in Diego Llorente struggles for Leeds United

Leeds United defender Diego Llorente is struggling for form because he isn’t playing his usual range of passing, according to former Whites player Tony Dorigo.

He believes the Spaniard gains confidence from playing diagonal balls out of defence and has suffered in general with that element lacking from his game.

Llorente was directly at fault for at least one of the five goals shipped in the thrashing at Brentford at the weekend (3 September), while combining with central defensive partner Robin Koch to play keeper Illan Meslier into trouble for another.

Writing in his Yorkshire Evening Post column Dorigo said: “Unfortunately Diego Llorente isn’t having his best patch of form and with him, when he’s on the ball and those slicing angled passes go into midfield, it really builds his confidence.

“I don’t think those passes have been there so much of late and he’s struggled. I felt that at Brighton and it does seem to affect his game, so mistakes creep in.

“It’s unlike him but all players go through it and I’m sure he’ll come out the other side.

“He wasn’t alone in making mistakes and showing that the situation had got to him.”

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The performance at Brentford was concerning because it brought back horrible memories of the collapse against Tottenham that led to the sacking Marcelo Bielsa last season.

The 29-year-old had looked a shadow of the player he can be on that day and was criticised heavily at the time, so the bumbling display at the back alongside Koch at the weekend felt like a major back-step after a reasonably improved start to the season.

There were teething problems with Rasmus Kristensen adapting to the Premier League and Pascal Struijk filling in at left-back for the injured Junior Firpo, but nothing like the implosion that came along in the last game which felt like a throwback to the relegation battle.

As with the previous campaign where he looked immeasurably more assured once Liam Cooper returned to the line up he would surely benefit again if the captain came back in.

He may not get the chance though since Koch is believed to be Jesse Marsch’s preferred partner if the American is to make the switch, even if the German was equally bad in the last game.

If Cooper returns the hope has to be that the greater organisation and belief will be of benefit to the whole side, since the attack looked fairly sharp despite the lopsided scoreline at the Brentford Community Stadium.

It is probably not a great sign if a centre-back’s whole game hinges on the psychological boost gained from certain long passes but something is definitely not clicking for Llorente right now so it may be time for a reset.

In other Leeds United news, footage of a wild piece of skill from one Whites loanee has divided fan opinion.