'Leeds United can keep my Spain dreams alive for Euros and 2022 World Cup,' says record signing from Valencia Rodrigo

Rodrigo believes his move to Leeds United boosts his chances of keeping the Spanish number nine jersey for the postponed European Championships and 2022 World Cup.

Saturday, 29th August 2020, 11:38 am
Updated Saturday, 29th August 2020, 11:46 am
BIG GAME - Rodrigo has plenty of top level experience with Valencia and with the Spanish national team. Here he's competing for the ball with England keeper Jordan Pickford in a Nations League fixture. Pic: Getty

The attacker was finally unveiled as the Whites' record signing this morning, for a sum of around £27m.

If the club's newly earned top flight status was yet to sink in with fans, the arrival of a current Spanish international striker with Champions League experience might help the process.

The move was all but done by midweek, although the fine details, particularly at the Spanish end of the deal, took a couple of days to nail down.

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Leeds were hoping to give their expectant fanbase the news they had all been waiting impatiently for on Friday night, but instead settled for a Saturday morning announcement.

Other than the profile of the player and the size of the financial investment, one of the most impressive aspects of the transfer was how quiet Leeds managed to keep it until the very late stages.

Rodrigo has had time to get his head around the idea.

"Leeds have been working for two weeks, almost, on this deal with Valencia," he said.

OLD FOE - Rodrigo will come up against Harry Maguire of Manchester United with his new club Leeds United this season in the Premier League. Pic: Getty

"Since the first time Victor talked to me, I knew I wanted this new challenge with Leeds, it is a historic club.

"For me, I am really happy I have decided to join the club in this important season for all of us, coming back into the Premier League. I just want to thank all the fans for the messages on social media and I want to thank Andrea and Victor Orta for the effort. It is a new step in my career and I want to help the team achieve the goals of the season."

Every new arrival at Elland Road, be they an Under 23s prospect or a proven top tier operator, doffs the cap to the man they will have to impress before they can even begin to impress the fans and Rodrigo was no different.

Even fully-blown internationals at the age of 29 have their work cut out, but Rodrigo is willing to learn from Marcelo Bielsa.

"To work with one of the best coaches in football at the moment; he did important things at different clubs," said the striker.

"I am really excited to learn from him and improve my football with some hard work."

He has previous with the English top flight and played in it more recently than his new club.

Ten years ago he signed for Bolton Wanderers, on loan from Benfica and he's keen to point out that the player Leeds have signed is vastly different from the one who made 17 Premier League appearances under Owen Coyle's management.

"My first experience with the Premier League was with Bolton in 2010, it was a really nice experience," said the Brazilian-born forward.

"I was too young in that moment but now I am a better player, a more complete player than in previous years. I am really excited to come back to the Premier League.

"The people feel the football there is different from the other countries, I want to enjoy it with me and my family. It is an important step in my professional career but in my personal life I think it is going to be a good experience."

When he links up with his new team-mates there will be familiar faces. He has already made contact with another former Valencia favourite, Pablo Hernandez, and recalls a young Helder Costa from their time at Benfica.

And once he's fully settled in and his adaptation period for Bielsaball is complete, he can get on with the business of keeping Leeds in the top flight and keeping his international career on track. It's as much an exciting new chapter for the expensive new boy as it is for his club.

"I think Leeds will give me the opportunity to go to the national team," he said.

"Next summer we have the Euros and in two years we have the World Cup.

"I was lucky enough to play with Spain in 2018. I come here looking to improve my football and play well to achieve my goals with the national team also."