Date published: Thursday 5th November 2020 8:57
Marcelo Bielsa is yet to decide on Raphinha’s best position at Leeds but believes it’s more likely he will operate as a winger rather than as a No 10.
The Brazilian winger joined Leeds in a £18m deal from Rennes on the final day of the transfer deadline.
His agent, former Chelsea player Deco, has already explained why he expects him to be a big star at Leeds.
Raphinha has so far had to wait patiently for his chance. He has made two substitute appearances so far. But he showed some telling glimpses of his talent when stepping off the bench in the 3-0 win at Villa.
Sadly an ankle injury ensured he was absent for Monday’s 4-1 home defeat to Leicester.
But he could return to the squad for Saturday’s trip to Palace, if he passes a fitness test.
“I haven’t decided just yet,” Bielsa said when asked on his fitness. “We’re going to wait until tomorrow [Friday] to see if it is convenient whether we can count on him or not.”
Raphinha is capable of playing across the attack and that versatility clearly appeals to Bielsa.
The Brazilian is comfortable on either wing. It’s also suggested the former Sporting Lisbon star could be a long-term replacement for Pablo Hernandez in the No 10 role.
Bielsa though was giving little away and had a guarded response on his best position.
“He fundamentally plays on either wing. He is a player who is naturally very attacking.
“He has the ability to get in behind, with great dribbling skills.
“His virtue is to attack and these skills are applicable out wide as well as in the centre.”
When pressed further, Bielsa continued: “I won’t say that I won’t use him in another other position.
“But I see him as a player who can play on either wing. He has played in the centre as a striker and attacking midfielder but he arrived in our team to be an alternative on the wings.”
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Bielsa sends message to Roy Hodgson
Leeds lock horns with Crystal Palace on Saturday. They are, of course, managed by the Premier League’s senior statesman, Roy Hodgson.
Asked for his thoughts on the Eagles boss, Bielsa admitted he had nothing but respect for all he had achieved.
“I sincerely respect him a lot,” Bielsa said.
“I’m not the best person to have an opinion as I have only been here two years. But I have the opinion that he’s a very valued member in the English community.”
Asked about what Leeds need to be wary of, Bielsa said he knew all about Palace’s strengths.
“They are a team that has four very important players in attack. They are a team who has a stable base,” he commented.
“Palace have a distinct style of play which they don’t change. They improve and like the majority of the teams in the division they have had some good and some not very good moments. They have experience.”
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