Marcelo Bielsa has told his pre-Newcastle United press conference – as per Leeds Live – that he believes Diego Llorente can help the Whites have more of a presence in the air, as set-pieces continues to be a problem area this season.
Llorente, 27, has still only managed to play for Leeds on one occasion – the 3-1 defeat to Chelsea in which he replaced Robin Koch in the early stages of the match. Koch remains on the sidelines after knee surgery.
Spain star Llorente picked up a groin problem on international duty after his move from Real Sociedad, and then suffered an injury against Chelsea December. But he did play for the Under-23 side last Monday, scoring against Wolves in a 1-0 win.
Asked about Llorente and whether he could start on Tuesday night, Bielsa suggested that Llorente might be able to help Leeds when it comes to defending aerially with set-pieces being a huge issue for the Yorkshire side.
“Llorente has the characteristics of a strong defender. He is a player who is happy recovering the ball and he’s the player who has physical attributes who can help in the aerial game and the physical game on the ground,” Bielsa said.
TBR’s view – Llorente can plug the gaps in Leeds defence
Certainly in his performances against Chelsea and then Wolves’ Under-23 side, Llorente proved just how capable he is aerially. He marshalled Olivier Giroud well in the 3-1 defeat and although against an academy side, he looked dominant.
That will be crucial coming up against Newcastle side that are likely to start with Andy Carroll up front – as well as the highly-rated Callum Wilson. He now has the chance to start again, and show Leeds fans why they signed him in the summer.