BIG PLAYERS - Both Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha were among the highest rated Leeds United players across a difficult season. Pic: Tony JohnsonBIG PLAYERS - Both Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha were among the highest rated Leeds United players across a difficult season. Pic: Tony Johnson
BIG PLAYERS - Both Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha were among the highest rated Leeds United players across a difficult season. Pic: Tony Johnson

How each Leeds United player rated for 2021/22 Premier League season amid injuries and struggle

Leeds United were able to count on just four players to start 30 games or more in the Premier League last season, a statistic that barely does their struggles justice.

Only one man, Illan Meslier, was in the starting line-up every time the Whites ran out for a top flight game and even he didn't escape the campaign without an injury. The young Frenchman hobbled off in the visit to Wolves after being clattered by Raul Jimenez, although the international break that mercifully followed that game allowed him to return in time for the very next outing.

The loss of key players like Liam Cooper, Kalvin Phillips and Patrick Bamford for major chunks of the season must be factored in when discussing how Leeds United fared, how Marcelo Bielsa came to lose his job and how Jesse Marsch followed the Argentine. It must also be kept in mind when judging the individual contributions of each player. Even those who managed to avoid serious injuries were impacted by the crisis in the form of extra responsibility or the natural consequences of playing in a team lacking leaders, experience, confidence and form.

Ultimately the players, Bielsa and Marsch came out of the 2021/22 Premier League season without a relegation on their CV. However, while some - like Meslier and Raphinha - were able to show the best of themselves for larger periods than others, no one was able to emerge boasting any serious level of consistency. The size of the squad and the quality it held caused problems that had simply not existed before. Seniors like Stuart Dallas, Luke Ayling, Cooper, Phillips and Bamford played through or eventually succumbed to injuries, while Daniel James and others had to play out of position and found it difficult to exhibit top form. Jack Harrison racked up the second highest tally of starts after Meslier and although crucially he hit the net an impressive 10 times, the winger was unable to produce the same level of performance that helped him catch the eye in his debut top flight season.

The man-marking system that Bielsa had used to make life so miserable for so many opponents since his 2018 arrival at Elland Road began to look increasingly porous against the top sides, leading to huge defeats that ultimately cost him his job. Even when Marsch came in and changed the defensive set-up, Leeds' difficulties did not completely abate as the American sensed fear and disbelief in a group beseiged by pressure and injuries.

When they crossed the finish line it was with a limp, but cross it they did, beating Burnley by virtue of a final day win at Brentford for the slimmest but most welcome of escapes.

There were positives, aside from survival, most notably in the shape of youngsters like breakthrough star Joe Gelhardt, who showed more than a few glimpses of his prodigious talent, highly-rated defensive prospect Charlie Cresswell, Crysencio Summerville, Leo Hjelde, Sam Greenwood and Lewis Bate. With a summer rebuild planned, Marsch will hope to be able to continue to blood the club's young stars next season in a more controlled manner, in a less pressurised environment next season.

So with the full context of just how difficult it was for them and their senior counterparts in mind, here's how Leeds United rated as individuals across the season according to their average match rating. Players received a rating for each performance that amounted to more than a mere cameo as a late substitute. It's also always worth noting that the more games you play, the harder it is to finish the season with a high rating.

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