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Leeds’ Helder Costa problem may be down to his positioning

This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…

Why is Helder Costa not ripping up the Championship this season?

It seemingly makes no sense, a man who contributed to 29 goals during his two seasons in this division with Wolves has crafted just one assist in 15 appearances.

However, a closer look as Costa’s playstyle reveals exactly why he isn’t hitting the heights he did while at Molineux.

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Bielsa’s tactics

While Costa is more of a traditional winger, Bielsa’s teams operate more with wide midfielders.

The Argentine has previously said himself that Costa’s pace and power don’t suit the system that he is trying to utilise as he’s unable to get in behind defences.

Pablo Hernandez and Jack Harrison are much more suited to this tactic as their game is more centred around technical ability rather than physical gifts.

That isn’t to say that Costa couldn’t do what either of those players are doing, but a look at the 25-year-old in recent weeks suggests he has a lot to do.

Costa’s heat maps

The Wolves loanee’s heat maps (via SofaScore) from his last two matches tell the entire story.

Just look at the positions he’s most often been occupying in the last two games, he’s been in the areas where you’d expect the defensive line to be, just past the halfway line and on the edge of the box.

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This means that he can only really get involved in the game when Leeds are on the attack rather than when they’re trying to craft a chance.

Compare these to Harrison’s heatmaps and they’re night and day.

As you can see, Harrison is most often occupying the space just behind the halfway line so that he is always a passing option for the centre-backs and the midfielders.

This means that the Man City loanee is playing more of a part in the buildup to the attack.

Therefore, when it’s time to get the final ball into the box or get a shot at goal he’s been able to play a part in stretching the defence and manipulating the space. Thus, he’s in the best possible position to make something happen, and that’s partly why he’s had four assists in his last five games.

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Costa needs to quickly adapt to this way of playing and get himself more involved in the general play rather than relying on others to play him in behind the defensive line so that he can either put in an easy cross or have a clear run at goal.

Article title: Leeds’ Helder Costa problem may be down to his positioning

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