At this stage of last season the Whites had 10 points from their opening seven games and went on to clinch a top-10 finish. Ahead of the eighth Premier League outing of the current campaign against Southampton, Marcelo Bielsa’s men have six points.
Their start to the season has undoubtedly been tough. They have faced Manchester United, Everton, West Ham United and Liverpool so far, but they also took on the Reds in the first seven games last season, along with Manchester City, Wolves and Leicester City. The reality is that life at the top table is not easy.
Rodrigo joined Leeds for their Premier League return after 16 years in the second and third tier of English football, bringing extensive experience of the Champions League, Europa League and La Liga to Elland Road with him.
England’s top tier is the best in the world right now, he says.
“Last season, in my opinion, the two best leagues in the world were the Spanish one and the Premier,” he said.
“I think last season the difference between the Premier and La Liga with the other ones increased a little bit and I think from this summer it is clear that the Premier League took a big advantage over the other leagues. We can see week in and week out that it is really hard to get the results.
“All the teams are really competitive, the big teams, the top six, are even better than last season so I totally agree that the Premier League nowadays is by far - with a big difference - the best league in the world.”
To cope with the jump in quality after securing promotion from the Championship, Leeds splashed over £100m on transfer fees and then added Barcelona’s Junior Firpo [£13m] and Manchester United’s Daniel James [£25m] this summer, having made Jack Harrison [£13m] a permanent addition following three seasons on loan with the Whites.
Owner Andrea Radrizzani makes no secret of his desire to return the club to European competition but maintaining Premier League status for a number of years is a vital precursor to achieving that dream.
Rodrigo says expectation grew thanks to the team’s 2020-21 overachievement but patience is key as they build solid foundations for the future.
“I think that of course nowadays we want everything for the day after, but we have to keep in our minds that we are a team that stayed for a long time in the Championship and some years in League One also,” he said.
“We got promoted just for last season so we did a really great first season in the Premier League.
“This is our second season and each year will be a bigger challenge.
“I think last season the expectations of people were lower than this year and this pressure for us the players, for the club, for the staff, of course, each year it will be bigger.
“We have to maintain the calm - I think we are doing a really great job, I think the club has been doing a really great job the last four or five years - and try to grow step by step because that will be the base for the future I think.”