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Premier League: Leeds Need Spanish Stars to Finally Shine

Premier League: Leeds Need Spanish Stars to Finally Shine

Leeds United’s long wait is over. The Whites finally got their first Premier League win of the season as they edged out Watford 1-0 at Elland Road thanks to Diego Llorente’s early goal.

Llorente and Spanish compatriot Rodrigo Moreno were two of Leeds’ marquee signings last summer, but neither one has yet to fully live up to their big price tags for differing reasons. And it’s now becoming clear that Leeds need their Spanish stars to finally deliver if they are to overcome their early-season struggles.

SBOTOP takes a closer look at both Rodrigo and Llorente and find out why the two Spaniards are so vital to Leeds’ potential success this season.

Rodrigo yet to live up to record fee

Leeds United made quite a splash last summer when they broke their club transfer record to sign Rodrigo Moreno from Valencia. The Spanish international has never been the most prolific striker in his career, but he could at least provide a good deal of experience as well as versatility in attack.

Rodrigo certainly needed to be versatile last season as Marcelo Bielsa used him more in midfield while the prolific Patrick Bamford had the lead striker role locked down. Rodrigo did not have a great season overall, but he did finish strong and ended up with a respectable tally of seven goals in 26 matches.

The hope was that after a rough first year, Rodrigo would raise his game this season and become the productive forward Leeds need him to be in case Bamford lost form or got injured.

Unfortunately for Leeds, Bamford has in fact gotten hurt and has missed the last few games with an ankle injury. So for the first time in his Leeds career, Rodrigo finally got an extended run in his preferred role as the focal point of the attack.

The Spanish striker has not capitalised on his chance, though, and has produced few Premier League 2021 highlights. Rodrigo has yet to get his first goal despite starting in six of the first seven matches, with just nine shots to his name. He was lively and involved in build-up play against Watford but was still lacking the clinicalness in front of goal.

Bamford is expected to return to return to the line-up after the international break, which should be a huge boost to Leeds. But with the Whites’ striker options – Tyler Roberts and teenagers Sam Greenwood and Joe Gelhardt are next up in the pecking order – it remains important that Rodrigo rediscover his goalscoring form of late last season and be a reliable replacement when Bamford is out.

1X2 Italy @ 2.28

Italy Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 2.01

Over 2.25 @ 2.05

Diego Llorente needs to be the linchpin of Leeds’ defence

While Rodrigo has had his chances to perform but lacked in end product, his compatriot Diego Llorente’s big problem has been getting on the pitch. Injuries have kept the Spanish international centre-back from being a consistent fixture in the Leeds side since his arrival for £18m last summer.

But for the most part, Llorente has looked well worth his price tag whenever he has played. The Watford match was no different. Aside from scoring the winning goal, he also showcased his impressive passing ability from the back – something Leeds have sorely missed with him and Robin Koch missing – as he completed 61 of 66 passes. He also did some fine defending work, save for one error which Watford failed to punish.

Llorente’s presence allows Leeds to play how Bielsa wants them to play on both ends. His fine passing gives them the ability to build up attacks from the back more effectively, and he is also the most capable of the centre-backs in terms of covering the spaces that Leeds leave in behind.

Based on the positive impact he has made in limited appearances since his arrival, it’s not a stretch to suggest that Llorente significantly boosts Leeds’ Premier League 2021 odds of success.

With 14 goals already conceded in seven games this season, Leeds desperately need him to help shore up the backline. The absences of Luke Ayling – who is set to undergo knee surgery – and Koch also make Llorente’s long-term fitness all the more crucial.

After their surprising success last season, Leeds are now experiencing firsthand how tough it is to repeat that success in the Premier League. But the Whites do possess enough quality in their squad to turn things around, especially if their Spanish stars finally start to shine this season.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.






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