Diego Llorente on Leeds United difficulties, playing style, the Premier League and next season
Diego Llorente’s first taste of life at Leeds United has left him hungry for more.
The Spaniard endeared himself to Whites supporters by the end of his debut campaign at Elland Road, but he had to do it the hard way. An injury sustained on international duty before he had even made his Leeds debut kept him out of action until December, when he picked up a fresh problem at Stamford Bridge.
A third injury occurred just 10 minutes into his attempted comeback at Newcastle United and it was the third week of February before he returned.
But a run of 13 straight starts finally allowed the 27-year-old to introduce himself properly to the fanbase and establish himself in Marcelo Bielsa’s side before jetting off to join up with the Spanish national team for the European Championships.
“It was a big adaptation for me, obviously changing country for the first time, I was now faced with a different language, different sets of circumstances when I trained and a new league,” said Llorente.
“At first it was particularly hard and obviously the injuries made that adaptation process even more difficult, but in general I’m very happy and I think I adapted quite well once I managed to get those injuries behind me.
“I knew it wouldn’t be too difficult to adapt to this style of play, because it was similar to the style of my previous team, but I think the Premier league is more physical than La Liga and you could say that that was what made it difficult for me at first.
“However, I had the belief of my coach and my team-mates and that helped me a lot.”
Llorente and Leeds ended their campaign on a high with four straight wins that secured ninth place in the Premier League table.
Bielsa declared himself satisfied and Llorente concurred.
The centre-half believes the work Leeds do at Thorp Arch and their style of play have underpinned results that left more than a few pundits red faced and open mouthed and he can’t wait to return to do it all again next season.
“With the help of my team-mates, I think generally we can say that together we’ve performed well and I’m happy with it being my first year,” he said.
“Now I’ve got a lot of willingness to begin the next season, do well and get more games under my belt.”
“The training is extremely demanding and I think that’s key when it comes to the game because it enables you to perform really well and to be physically on your game for 90 minutes.
“Despite it being a very demanding way of playing, I knew that it was a good way of playing and one that could bring good results, so that was the reason I believed in the project of Leeds and knew that we could go on to do well in the Premier League.
“So, my experience has been great so far and I’m just really looking forward to playing more minutes and contributing more.”