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Marcelo Bielsa’s treatment of Juan Roman Riquelme should be a warning to Samuel Saiz

Mathew Nash

Samuel Saiz may have a fight on his hands getting back into the Leeds United team. The Spaniard was dropped for the 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest as Leeds performed a tactical reshuffle which saw Adam Forshaw come in. His performance certainly suggests he should stay in the team leaving Saiz, potentially, watching on.

Apart from Pablo Hernandez, Saiz is perhaps the most naturally gifted footballer Leeds have. So leaving him out is a bold statement from Marcelo Bielsa.

But Saiz must know talent alone will not guarantee you football under Bielsa. Just look at Juan Roman Riquelme for proof.

Argentine midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme celebrates after he scored the first goal against Chile during their World Cup South Africa-2010 qualifying match at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, on October 13th, 2007. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL GARCIA (Photo credit should read DANIEL GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images)

Prior to the Lionel Messi-era for Argentina, it was Riquelme who many Argentina fans considered their most precocious talent.

However, despite plenty of fan pressure, Bielsa did not give Riquelme a starring role when the manager of the Argentina team from 1998 to 2004. After the 1999 Copa America, Bielsa hardly used the player during his six-year tenure in charge of the Albiceleste.

It made him an enemy in the eyes of Boca Juniors fans, but Bielsa cared little.

Saiz is a good player, maybe not at Riquelme’s level, but the parallels are clear. Saiz prefers a free-role and defensive work is not exactly in his wheelhouse. Something of a tempestuous character, the pair certainly share similar characteristics.

Bielsa will not simply play Saiz because of his talent. The Spaniard must continue working hard and improve on his overall duties if he is to remain in the Leeds United starting XI.

If Bielsa can throw Riquelme on the scrapheap, he will have no trouble doing the same with Saiz.

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