Leeds may have found their next Pablo Hernandez
Heading into Leeds United’s clash with Spurs earlier this month, there seemed to be little doubt over who the Whites’ most underwhelming marquee addition had been up until that point.
Diego Llorente and Robin Koch have been outstanding at various stages. And Raphinha has established himself as arguably the most exciting player within Marcelo Bielsa’s ranks.
Rodrigo meanwhile, had endured a much tougher campaign. The Spaniard arrived for a club-record fee (via BBC Sport). But heading into that fixture with Tottenham, he had scored just three times.
The 30-year-old has had to deal with various hurdles throughout this season. And he had only made 12 starts in the Premier League.
Some may have wondered whether Leeds had overpaid for the forward. But in the last two games, Rodrigo has silenced his doubters emphatically.
He has scored three times in less than 45 minutes of football across the wins against Spurs and Burnley. All of the strikes have been well-taken and seen Rodrigo show everyone just why Leeds broke their transfer record.
And it is perhaps those performances that hint that, in some ways, Leeds may have found their next Pablo Hernandez.
Rodrigo is not the first Spaniard the Whites have signed at a stage of their career when, on paper, they should be edging towards the end of their peak.
Leeds landed Hernandez when he was 31. And it seems fair to say that he did not enjoy the best first season at Elland Road either.
In fact, Hernandez scored six league goals in that first year with Leeds – the same number Rodrigo currently has.
But from there, Hernandez kept taking his game to another level. It could certainly be argued that no one signing had a bigger impact while Leeds were outside the top flight.
And in some ways, Hernandez’s age probably worked in Leeds’s favour. That is surely the main reason the Whites did not seemingly face a bigger fight to keep him when he scored 12 goals and provided 12 assists in Bielsa’s first year, for example.
Rodrigo is slightly younger than Hernandez was when he joined. But it is surely fair to say that no matter how well he does, it is highly unlikely that Leeds will be offered the chance to make a profit on him.
And based on his last couple of performances, Rodrigo looks to have the quality to bounce back from a tough first year and become a mainstay for Bielsa’s men well into the twilight of his career – just as Hernandez had done.
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