Summer signings give Marcelo Bielsa plenty of options for the Premier League campaign
07 Oct 2020 10:01 pm, by YorkshireSquare
The most important thing to come out of this transfer window for Leeds United has been the increased options now available to Marcelo Bielsa. At times over the past two seasons it would be fair to say our squad was, with the greatest of respect, devoid of any real quality outside of the first eleven. You only had to look at our bench sometimes over the last few years to know four or five of the seven had as much chance of coming off the bench as Eddie Gray had of being asked to put his boots on at half time. But now, possibly with the exception of central midfield, Marcelo Bielsa has options.
Versatility has always been a quality Bielsa has appreciated. You only need to look at how important Stuart Dallas is to the side, playing right back, left back, right wing, central midfield and to be honest over the base few games, absolutely everywhere. Victor Orta has brought in four key signings this summer, all of them capable of playing in multiple positions, adding to the versatility of the squad and providing plenty of options. Enough quality added that many are seeking out betting offers to back Leeds to a top ten finish. In defence Robin Koch and Diego Llorente have been brought in. Two internationals who allow Marcelo Bielsa to play a back three with three out and out central defenders. Koch can also provide cover in defensive midfield whilst Llorente can also cover at right back in a back four.
At full back; Ayling, Dallas, Alioski, Davis, Llorente and Harrison can all play there, particularly when playing in Marcelo Bielsa’s favoured 3-3-1-3 when the wing backs are required to do plenty of attacking and cover lots of the pitch. Out wide Costa, Harrison, Poveda and now Raphinha provide the attacking options with Rodrigo able to play wide right if required. As ever with a Marcelo Bielsa side, the attacking positions are not nailed down and his wingers are equally capable of playing on either side of the pitch. Man marking a Bielsa side must be a nightmare when you aren’t even really sure where your man is playing.
At No 10 the magician Pablo Hernandez remains king but there are plenty of other options too. Tyler Roberts and Rodrigo have provided cover recently with the Spain international looking more than capable in the role. Jack Harrison, Costa and Raphinha are also able to cover in attacking midfield, each bring their own particular style to the role. It’s never been a fixed position for us, not since Saiz left, we have never signed a proper replacement. But Marcelo Bielsa prefers converting wingers into the role, he has done it many times before with the likes of Payet, Munain, De Marcos and Benzia. No longer should we be too concerned about missing Pablo Hernandez.
Up front Patrick Bamford has started the season well, his work rate never questioned even if his goalscoring record has been but now he has genuine competition. Rodrigo is Spain’s striker and is already off the mark for Leeds this season. Leeds have also strengthened in this area for the U23s this season but for now cover would likely come from Harrison or Costa. Fans may thing we are light in this area but with Marcelo Bielsa’s preference for versatile wingers who can play right across the attacking line he will feel that he has plenty of options available to him.
The only area for concern, and the reason Rodrigo De Paul seemed like such a good fit, is in central midfield, the No 8 role. Mateusz Klich has been ever present in the role over the past two years, missing only one game due to a monumental hangover. But there will be a time when he is missing, and it is perhaps the area Bielsa would struggle to fill the most. Jamie Shackleton covered last time and scored his first goal for the club against Derby, but otherwise there is a lack of depth. The irrepressible Stuart Dallas even Alioski could cover, but that doesn’t feel like a long-term option. It’s the one area that Victor Orta may still be looking at before the domestic window closes or even lining up a deal for January.
Leeds United have done good business this season, sure plenty of cash has been splashed but that isn’t what’s important. What is important is that they have made key signings who can cover a multitude of positions giving Marcelo Bielsa the options he requires.