Marcelo Bielsa outlines Rodrigo plan and casts verdict on Leeds United record signing's first year with Whites

Marcelo Bielsa has outlined his plan for Leeds United's record signing Rodrigo and paid a glowing tribute to the Spaniard, one year after his arrival at the club.

Friday, 27th August 2021, 4:00 pm
Updated Friday, 27th August 2021, 4:07 pm

Spanish international forward Rodrigo signed for Leeds from Valencia on August 29 last year, joining the Whites for a club record fee of £27m on a four-year deal.

The 30-year-old's first season at Elland Road was disrupted by injuries and coronavirus but the Spaniard ended the season with a bang, netting four goals in United's last five games and being nominated for the Premier League's player of the month award for May.

Rodrigo then started the 2021-22 season opener against Manchester United at Old Trafford but was taken off at the break and was an unused substitute for last weekend's 2-2 draw at home to Everton.

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HUGE BACKING: For Leeds United's record signing Rodrigo, above, from Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa, one year after the Spaniard's arrival at the club. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Bielsa then revealed that Rodrigo had suffered a small setback in training and that he otherwise would have started against the Toffees.

Three days later, the record signing lined up from the outset for Tuesday's Carabao Cup clash at home to League One outfit Crewe Alexandra in which the forward was taken off after 69 minutes with the score still goalless.

Rodrigo was replaced by Patrick Bamford who played a vital role in setting up a brace of goals for Jack Harrison following a Kalvin Phillips opener in a 3-0 victory.

Leeds will now return to Premier League action via Sunday's clash at Burnley - a fixture in which Rodrigo bagged a brace last May - and Bielsa has issued the Spaniard with a set of huge compliments despite a rather stop-start first year.

"Rodrigo is a player with all the faculties to triumph at Leeds and in English football," said Bielsa, asked about the record signing's first year at Leeds.

"His football and technical resources can't be better, his physical responses are one of the best in the team, he is a very serious professional, very dedicated and very conscious.

"In a parallel way he has had an important influence on the team, less than what we expected and when it is about a player like Rodrigo that doesn't have aspects to correct, that is to say he trains a lot, he has high physical resources, he has technical resources above the average and he is having continuity.

"So it's about me putting him into the team and him having a higher repercussion than he is currently having.

"I sincerely exempt him from any responsibility because in every game and every training session and in his private life he is impeccable.

"He is a player that leaves it all and he fights especially to triumph.

"He is not a player that is just happy with not having protagonism in the team.

"To summarise all of that, any manager, with all this disposition and willingness that he has, would want him to try and be in the team."

Asked if Rodrigo's display in the 4-0 victory at Burnley last May would have any bearing on his team selection this weekend, Bielsa reasoned: "It is very difficult to link the game with what happened in May. Rodrigo is a player that doesn't need references that were so far away to be considered."

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Thank you Laura Collins