Marcelo Bielsa has suggested that Stuart Dallas reminds him of Javier Zanetti, while he also shared – in comments reported by Sky Sports – which role the Leeds United star claimed to be his preferred position.
Dallas is one of three players within Bielsa’s side to have started every single Premier League game since promotion.
His tally is all the more remarkable however, when you consider that the other two names on the list are Luke Ayling and Patrick Bamford.
Ayling has featured at centre-back this season. But Bamford is obviously a player who features in one role, while Ayling is nailed on to start at right-back as long as Leeds are not struggling with injuries.
Dallas meanwhile, has been deployed in a number of roles this term. He has predominantly played as a central midfielder recently. But he has also played in both full-back roles, out on the wing, and more centrally during Bielsa’s time in charge.
And that has prompted Bielsa to compare the 30-year-old with one of the world’s all-time greats. He also disclosed that Dallas is currently being asked to play away from his favoured role.
“I’ve previously had a player like this,” he said, as reported by Sky Sports. “He reminds me of Javier Zanetti and Julio Saldaña, someone I managed at Newell’s Old Boys in my first managerial experience. They were very alike Dallas in terms of their versatility.
“When he’s been asked in the past about what he sees as being his best position, he’s said that it’s on the left side of the defence that he prefers. But clearly what we saw against City as a No 8 was extremely profitable and satisfying.”
TBR View: Dallas becoming a player Leeds simply cannot be without
A couple of years ago, comparing Dallas with Zanetti would have likely been met with ridicule. Dallas himself, would have probably been baffled by the notion.
But few would be laughing now. Of course, it is not a comparison of the careers that they have enjoyed. Few can compete with Zanetti on that front.
But in terms of his importance to the Leeds lineup, you can certainly see why Bielsa is reminded of Zanetti by Dallas.