Forget Raphinha: Leeds United’s other injury update is the real source of frustration – opinion

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Leeds United star Rodrigo has struggled with fitness this season, and it’s clearly becoming frustrating for him and the club.

The Whites shattered their transfer record to bring in Spanish international Rodrigo from Valencia in the summer, spending £27million.

He arrived with great promise around him, given his career to date and what he can offer under Marcelo Bielsa.

It’s been a slow burner for him at Elland Road, but we have seen moments of magic from Rodrigo.

What he’s brought to the table

Rodrigo arrived and many perceived him to be direct competition to Patrick Bamford in the lone striker role.

We’ve actually seen the opposite from him this season, as he continues to play more of a ‘provider’ role in the lineup.

It hasn’t exactly yielded the best return in terms of goal involvements, though, with three goals and one assist so far.

However, what he offers in terms of build-up is unquestioned.

Leeds have looked a lot more one-dimensional without him in midfield both picking up the ball from deep as well as getting alongside Bamford in attack.

His average of 1.8 shots per game is double that of Tyler Roberts, and it shows the jump in standard between the two n terms of carving out chances.

An oustanding performance away to Aston Villa has been the pick of the bunch so far, ripping apart one of the league’s best defences to put a hattrick on a plate for Bamford.

Despite this, it’s been a largely underwhelming campaign for the Spaniard.

Setback after setback

The problem with how good Rodrigo can be is that it’s not been the case for long enough.

He arrived just before the start of the season, so a catchup period is expected.

However, just as he got up to speed heading towards November, he had to miss two games with illness.

It’s been like groundhog day for Rodrigo this season. Just as he starts to look like the real deal, a setback gets thrown his way.

A groin injury away to Leicester City was the kicker, though, ruling him out for all six games in February.

Since then, he’s gone through a slow and steady recovery. All that, though, just to be dealt another annoying blow last week.

This stop-start season has been so annoying for a player who’s clearly one of the most technically gifted in the team.

On top of that, he’ll be watching Raphinha with envy as he shines in a full-strength Leeds team (Rodrigo aside).

Playing with the best players in the team week in, week out is something that Rodrigo will be praying for.

His link-up with Jack Harrison, Kalvin Phillips, and Bamford has been scintillating. We’re yet to see how he and Raphinha can tear up Premier League defences just yet.

Newcastle United got a taste, but it’s hardly a run of form like, say, Raphinha and Harrison have shared.

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Leeds United season ticket holder since 2013/14, currently situated in the middle of the FA5 noise. From Pablo Hernandez to 5-1 drubbings, I've seen it all at Elland Road.