By Ian Hunt
A Spanish expert has claimed that new Leeds signing Alfonso Pedraza is good enough to be a future Spain international.
The left winger, 20, joined the Championship giants on deadline day in a loan-to-buy transfer from parent club Villarreal after cutting short his season-long loan to Spanish second-tier outfit Lugo.
Pedraza is yet to play for senior Villarreal side but was a big hit at Lugo, who he spearheaded to sixth place in the table with six goals and eight assists from 23 league matches this season.
His form was such that Leeds agreed to pay a £300,000 charge to end his Lugo loan and bring him to Elland Road for the remainder of the campaign as they aim to secure promotion to the Premier League.
Garry Monk’s side are obliged to pay £8.5million to Villarreal to sign Pedraza permanently in May irrespective of the player’s form or fitness if they are one of the Championship’s three promoted clubs.
““At the moment, 10 million Euro is a lot for a guy who’s played only half a year of professional football – and for a small team in Spain,” said Spanish football writer Duran, who writes for El Progreso newspaper in Lugo, and as quoted by the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“But he can be a good investment because he’s a great prospect. He can improve his game at a club like Leeds and in the future he can be a (full) international player. There’s a good generation of Under-21 wingers in Spain so he has a lot of competitors. But he has the skill and attitude to reach that.”
Pedraza has already been capped at age-group levels in Spain, including two times by the Under-21s, to provide notice of his immense potential.
If Leeds win promotion, the Spaniard will become the club’s most expensive signing since Robbie Fowler was purchased from Liverpool for £11million in the summer of 2001.
Duran believes Pedraza must improve his fitness and defensive duties, as he struggles to consistently produces the goods in a 90-minute match and does not have the mindset of tracking back to cover the full-back.
“But the direct game in England might be very good for Pedraza,” Duran said to the Yorkshire Evening Post. “He can take advantage of free space and the quick transitions. He is best when (counter) attacks are launched with open space in the opponent’s half.
“If he adapts well to the environment and the language, I think English football can be perfect for him.”
Pedraza is expected to be named in the Leeds squad that host Cardiff in the league at Elland Road on Saturday.