'Close to what he is capable of' - Rodrigo delights Marcelo Bielsa and Mateusz Klich earns praise after Leeds United thump Burnley
Marcelo Bielsa saw Rodrigo playing at close to his best in Leeds United's 4-0 win over Burnley.
The Whites head coach sent the Spanish international forward on in the second half and it was a cameo to remember. Rodrigo hit the net twice, both times from a Jack Harrison assist, and came close to grabbing a hat-trick.
In a start-stop season it has taken some time for the club's record signing to show his full ability, Covid-19 and injuries restricting his number of starts.
But having impressed Bielsa as a second half substitute against Tottenham Hotspur, Rodrigo played a starring role off the bench at Turf Moor.
"Rodrigo is a player at a very high level," said Bielsa.
"He's one of the strikers for the Spanish national team and they are a powerhouse. He's a player, like I've said before, that it takes him a while to get to his full form. When he finally finds his full form he's a player that is very unbalancing."
Match minutes are of utmost importance to Rodrigo, and others, with the European Championships looming and national team selection up in the air, but Bielsa believes it is better to play well than to play every minute.
"The players have legitimate aspirations to play more but the best thing for any player is to be in conditions to play well," he said.
"Then you can play well or not well. If you're not in good form, it's very difficult to play well. I think these 50 minutes that Rodrigo played against Tottenham and today, that were at a very good level, are preferable than to play a lot of minutes when you're not at your best. I think in the game against Tottenham and the game today, I think we saw a version of Rodrigo close to what he's capable of."
Bielsa was equally delighted to see Mateusz Klich continue to play as he did in the last game against Spurs. The Polish midfielder scored the opener at Turf Moor with a fantastic curling effort from distance.
"He played a very good game against Spurs and he kept the same level in the game today," said Bielsa.
"He's at a similar level to his best level within this team. It gave me great happiness that he's playing as he is capable of playing."
The back three of Luke Ayling, Diego Llorente and Pascal Struijk came in for praise, too. Leeds' defensive performance was exactly what Bielsa wanted, in the first half, although the chances they gave up after the break were linked to Burnley's increased 'insistence' in attack he said.
"The resolution of the central part of the back three was very important and also the contribution of our goalkeeper," said the Argentine.
Leeds were without defender Robin Koch and attacker Pablo Hernandez for the trip to Turf Moor, but their absence was precautionary.
"Pablo has a small knock that is not important, we didn't want to take the risk as we play on Tuesday that he couldn't play then," said Bielsa.
"Koch has a small knock in his hip and he could have played but we preferred not to risk him."