Leeds United's Patrick Bamford admits Rodrigo regret after Southampton link up
Patrick Bamford sees Rodrigo as more of an attacking partner than a rival for his Leeds United No 9 spot.
The Spanish international arrived in West Yorkshire as the club’s record signing last summer from La Liga outfit Valencia amid a spending spree.
Rodrigo has endured an up-and-down campaign since making the surprise switch to Elland Road to join the newly-promoted Whites.
He has started just 12 games this season under head coach Marcelo Bielsa’s watch and contracted Covid-19 as he began to establish himself in the Argentine’s line-up last November.
Injuries have since followed and the £30m man has been forced to watch on from the sidelines in bursts over the last few months.
His signature was initially thought to provide competition for Bamford as United’s No 9 but the 30-year-old has found himself deployed behind the striker when called upon.
At Southampton on Tuesday night, Rodrigo was at his scintillating best in the second half, lifting a ball over the defence to find his team-mate for the opening goal.
It was Bamford’s 16th Premier League strike of the season in what has been a stellar campaign for the front man.
The link-up – the first of the season between the two – added to a strong few days for Rodrigo, who followed up a two-goal display at Burnley with the assist at St Mary’s.
Bamford is among those who have been left thinking about what could’ve been had luck been on the pair’s side throughout the season.
“The pass he played for my goal [at Southampton], you know technically he is so good,” Bamford told the Official Leeds United podcast.
“His vision is so good. For me, it is a shame that I never really got to play with him constantly. He got Covid then he got injured and then got another injury.
“It took him a while to get in the team. That pass and the vision just showed it. He played another one where I probably should’ve squared it but shot from a tight angle.”
Leeds host already-relegated West Bromwich Albion on Sunday afternoon in what will be the club’s final outing of their debut top-flight term for 16 years.
The pair are expected to be selected together again with Rodrigo hoping to continue a strong finish to the year after three goals and an assist in his last three outings.
“He’s had a tough year coming to a new team and then with the injuries,” Bamford added.
“He’s a nice guy so I thought that he deserves that. He probably needed it as well to put him in contention for the Spain squad at the Euros.
“I was happy for him. As a player, you want to play with the best players. He’s not really a ‘nine’ but he’s kind of split between a ‘nine’ and a ‘10’.
“I’d love playing with him because he likes dropping short all the time and getting on the ball. I want to play with the best players. He’s obviously a Spanish international and you look forward to playing with the best.”