By Nick Ware

5th Apr, 2021 | 7:35am

Diego Llorente pays tribute to Leeds fans after MOTM award in 2-1 win v Sheff Utd

Diego Llorente has paid a heartfelt tribute to Leeds United fans after they named him as their man of the match in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Sheffield United.

The Yorkshire derby ended up being a tighter affair than many predicted after Ben Osborn cancelled out Jack Harrison’s early opener on the stroke of half-time.

Phil Jagielka’s own-goal proved to be the difference between the two sides at Elland Road and the Whites owed a lot to their defensive rearguard who restricted the Blades to just one shot on Illan Meslier’s goal.

Among the heroes was Spanish defender Llorente who returned from the international break in fine form to thwart the visitors time after time.

His performance did not go under the radar as Leeds announced on their official Twitter account on Sunday that the £52,000-a-week [Salary Sport] ace had won the Man of the Match award for his previous day’s work.

Llorente earned 33% of the fans vote and he offered his thanks via his personal Twitter profile. He said: “Proud and grateful! MOT”

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Ben White who?

Llorente was a man mountain on Saturday and the infographic posted by Leeds to accompany his Man of the Match award paints the picture.

According to their data he won six duels, made four recoveries and won three tackles, while he was also handy with the ball, completing 83% of his passes.

After an injury-hit campaign it was only his eighth Premier League appearance but it’s now his sixth-in-a-row and the signs are positive.

He and Robin Koch were signed last summer to cope with the departure of Ben White who returned to parent club Brighton after a loan spell at Elland Road.

White was an ever-present in the Championship as Marcelo Bielsa’s side romped to the title and he became a fan favourite so there was dismay among supporters when he was not brought back to the club, principally because Brighton refused to sell.

But the emergence of Llorente after injury and his recent Man of the Match award hints at a potential new fan favourite, if he can keep his consistent level up.

In other Leeds United news, Jermaine Jenas acclaims ‘key component’ of Bielsa’s side after dazzling display v Sheff Utd.