Leeds United Q and A - Raphinha's fitness, the Whites bargain, Joe Gelhardt's potential, Helder Costa's improvement and season tickets

How close to a comeback is Raphinha? Will Marcelo Bielsa stay beyond this year? Which of the Under 23s will make a breakthrough first?

Wednesday, 4th November 2020, 4:40 pm
CLOSE - Raphinha is close to full fitness again and could be involved at Crystal Palace on Saturday for Leeds United. Pic: Getty

Those are just three of the 28 questions we selected, from dozens submitted, to cover all the major Elland Road talking points in today's Yorkshire Evening Post Q and A.

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Leeds United Q and A

Last updated: Wednesday, 04 November, 2020, 13:48

  • Your questions on the Elland Road talking points

@Um4rm1r: Who’s going to be a bigger bargain, Koch or Raphinha?

The Jamie Vardy experience aside, Robin Koch has looked a terrific addition so far this season. He is a lovely passer of the ball and defensively hadn’t made many errors at all before Monday night. We haven’t seen much of Raphinha but the glimpses we’ve had, Marcelo Bielsa’s excitement at the winger’s arrival and how quickly he has adapted, along with his age suggest that Leeds have themselves a player whose value could skyrocket. A good season in the Premier League and he will be worth far more than the sum the Whites shelled out. The same is true of Koch, of course, but there’s something genuinely very exciting about a Brazilian winger with that kind of pace and ability.

@BenDye5: Any news on how much longer Llorente will be out for?

He’s getting closer to a return but it sounds as if Crystal Palace might come too soon. An international break comes at a good time for him in particular.

@BillDonald1: Belsia only commits to year on year contract. Is the feeling he sees this as a long term project?

It’s already more of a long term project as any he’s been involved in at club level, that much is certain. I found it very interesting that he actually answered a question about his future in a recent press conference. There are subjects you start to feel are pointless to bring up because he’s so unlikely to talk about them, like refereeing performances. But he was willing to suggest that his one-year deal did not mean he wasn’t willing to consider staying longer. Personally I think the lack of fans will be lessening his enjoyment of his job, he links interaction with supporters with job satisfaction more than some other managers, so I’m not sure I could see a fourth year if fans weren’t going to be back in stadiums. A lot obviously depends on how this season goes but I don’t see a relegation on the cards and I don’t see Leeds wanting to go in a different direction. If fans are back in, I wouldn’t rule out a fourth year - he certainly hasn’t.

@MaherLUFC: Any news on season tickets in terms of what is going to happen with the money we paid, is it going to be transferred to next season?

Leeds United had been watching and waiting to see what was going to happen with regard to fans returning to stadiums and making plans, but there has always been an air of inevitability around refunds, or giving fans the option to transfer their season ticket to 2021-22. With time marching on and given that the club tradtionally start their renewal process in February and the length of time it takes to process refunds, I suspect many fans will simply elect to roll over the season ticket money to next season. Those who want and need their money back, will get it back. It shouldn’t be too long before the club make their intentions known on the matter, because there is little to no prospect of supporters getting back in right now. I’m not sure I can even see fans returning this season, as grim as that may be for football in general.

@Mcquaid13: Apart from Forshaw are we likely to have a full strength team after the international break?

Raphinha’s injury was minor enough that I could see him involved again at Crystal Palace on Saturday. Diego Llorente is getting closer, so another two weeks should see him back in contention. Rodrigo’s self isolation will be over by the time the Arsenal game comes and he should have been able to get back on the training ground, too, so should be involved. As for Kalvin Phillips, he might still be a doubt, depending on how his rehabilitation is going. Bielsa was keen to state it might be more or less than six weeks, so we’ll have to wait and see.

@_jessflynnx: Where do you see Leeds finishing in the table this season?

The lower side of midtable is definitely not beyond Leeds, as long as they don’t run into catastrophic injury problems. There are already, to me, a number of clubs who look destined for a struggle and the Whites have proved more than competitive in almost every game. I can see Rodrigo and Raphinha really adding to this side once they’re fully integrated. Anything above midtable would be astonishing. Anything above the relegation zone should be acceptable for everyone.

@KlichOne: Favourite Leeds game so far?

My first game, at Bristol City, was a lot of fan and a real eye opener. Pablo Hernandez’ opener on that day will live with me a long time. I enjoyed the Barnsley game and it was special to be present when Hernandez won it late at Swansea. Aston Villa away, this season, was one of those performances that was a joy to write about. But you cannot beat a 5-4 with a late winner. Birmingham away, last season, was mad and brilliant.

@EtheringtonAdam: If Leeds are looking safe in January and well clear of relegation, would the club look to spend some of next year’s Premier League money and strengthen the squad straight away? Would help us potentially climb further up the league and with a cup run, surely?

Victor Orta has gone on record many times with his dislike for the January market, simply because your options are so restricted. Marcelo Bielsa isn’t a fan of the January market because by the time a new signing, who you’d presume in most cases was not playing regularly at his previous club, gets up to speed, the season is all but over. Circumstances change and Leeds might have to react in January if there are problems with player availablity but I never feel like much January business is likely at Leeds.

@TWLUFC: Do you think we will go back in for De Paul in January or are there hints of someone else? I know Bielsa is not a January signing type of man but do you think we will need anyone?

Whether or not Leeds will need someone will depend on what happens to this squad, in terms of injuries. I wouldn’t predict a signing splurge, nothing like it in fact. De Paul was, in the summer, a player with a price tag that was simply too rich. Unless something changes dramatically in terms of the value his club places on him, I can’t see it in January. 

@_media_journo: Do you think Struijk will come back into the side on Saturday and Klich to move back to CM?

Dominic Matteo wants to see it, I would like to see it, but who can second guess Marcelo Bielsa? 

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