Marcelo Bielsa has high hopes that Rodrigo will shine for Leeds this season

Marcelo Bielsa has high hopes that Rodrigo will shine for Leeds this season

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa is convinced club-
record signing Rodrigo will soon start to justify his price tag.

Leeds paid Valencia £27million for the Spain forward in August last year before their first season back in the Premier League.

He has yet to establish himself in Bielsa’s starting line-up due to injury and a bout of coronavirus and was an unused substitute in Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Everton at Elland Road.

“During the week he had a slight muscular issue, from which he recovered quickly,” Bielsa said.

“If that hadn’t happened he would have been our offensive midfielder in the game today.”

Rodrigo appeared to have put his frustrations behind him with a strong finish  to last season, scoring four goals in Leeds’ final four games and was a late call-up for Spain before the Euros.

But he was omitted from Luis Enrique’s final squad and although he started in Leeds’ opening-day 5-1 defeat at Manchester United, he was withdrawn by Bielsa at half-time.

“I have a lot of confidence in the qualities of Rodrigo,” said Bielsa after Raphinha’s brilliant equaliser had earned his side a deserved point against Everton.

“During his holidays he did physical work that was very important. During the six weeks of pre-season, he’s the player who shone the most in those weeks.

“I have a lot of hopes for him that in this season he is going to show all the qualities he has.”

Leeds hit back twice against Rafael Benitez’s Everton. Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s penalty, after he had been fouled by Liam Cooper, was cancelled out by Mateusz Klich before half-time.

Everton regained the lead through outstanding summer recruit Demarai Gray before Raphinha raised the roof with a thumping finish.

Winger Gray, a £1.7m signing from Bayer Leverkusen in July, laid on Everton’s best scoring chances, but Benitez was careful not to lavish too much praise on the former Birmingham and Leicester man.

“I don’t like to talk too much about individuals. I think he’s doing well, everybody can see that, he scored a goal,” Benitez said.

“The main thing he gives to us is just competition in the wide areas and up front and that is good for the team.

“It is good for him to continue playing at this level and good for the team because they all have to push and do as well as him to be in the team.”

Everton, 3-1 winners against Southampton on the opening day, are unbeaten in Benitez’s first two league games in charge.

“I’m really pleased because the way we did, obviously in the first game, the reaction of the players and today the way we were pushing and working so hard from the beginning to the end,” the Spaniard added.

“In transition we were more dangerous and maybe close to winning the game. Overall, it’s fine.”
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