Llorente move now looks almost as good as Leeds' Raphinha deal
When outsiders are asked to consider which piece of business was Leeds United’s finest ahead of their return to the Premier League, it seems likely that most would pick out the deal to sign Raphinha with little hesitation.
There is no question that Leeds signing the Brazilian from Rennes looks to have been a masterstroke. The 24-year-old has been outstanding in his first year in England.
According to BBC Sport, Leeds paid just £17 million for Raphinha initially. That looks to be a remarkable deal from the Whites.
But perhaps the last few weeks have highlighted that Leeds may have actually done another deal last summer that is almost every bit as impressive as the move for Raphinha.
It has been an interesting campaign for Diego Llorente. He had made just two appearances before Southampton visited Elland Road in late February.
Those two games were separated by almost two months. And the clash with the Saints saw Llorente make his third comeback from injury.
Leeds fans would have been forgiven for fearing for the Spaniard’s future at that stage. Another injury soon after would have surely seen the majority of fans write him off.
However, the 27-year-old – who earns £22,000-a-week, according to Spotrac – has been a stalwart since then. In the nine games he has played since his latest return, Leeds have conceded just seven goals and kept three clean sheets.
Of course, that is not all down to Llorente. Kalvin Phillips has been outstanding of late. And it is frightening how well Pascal Struijk has adapted to life in the Premier League.
Llorente emergence a game-changer for Leeds
But Llorente’s emergence appears to have made a huge difference. He is good on the ball, reads the game supremely well and seems to win every challenge he goes in for.
Raphinha arguably maintains the upper hand on Llorente simply because Leeds are going to make a huge profit if they sell the winger.
But it now seems incredible that Leeds paid just £20 million for the centre-back (via Daily Mail).