While Leeds United may have gotten back to winning ways against Southampton last time out, Marcelo Bielsa must consider unleashing Helder Costa when Aston Villa make the trip to Elland Road on late Saturday afternoon.
The Whites ran out 3-0 winners over the Saints in the Premier League, but the scores were locked level at 0-0 before a second-half salvo knocked the wind out of the home side’s sails.
And one man who was instrumental in changing the complexion of that game, was Costa.
The £10.8m-rated star has been on the periphery of things in the Premier League this season, after initially starting the first eight games of the campaign. Since then, both Jack Harrison and Raphinha have nailed down the starting wide positions, with the 27-year-old Costa left looking in from the outside.
But after coming on at the break for Harrison against Arsenal, the exciting winger has shown flashes of being back to his best. He delivered an emphatic finish at the Emirates to pull one back against the Gunners as Leeds tried to mount a second-half fight-back, while he was equally impressive against the Saints, this time picking up an assist after again coming on for the same player.
Against Southampton, he attempted more dribbles, provided more key passes and won more duels than Harrison, while his quick feet and trickery also saw him earn four free-kicks for his side – the joint-most of any player on the day.
Speaking earlier this season, his former manager at Wolves, Nuno Espirito Santo, waxed lyrical about his fellow Portuguese man, saying: “When we arrived in the Championship, Helder was injured. They were major injuries and it took a lot of time for him to recover. So that season was not the best for him, but in the first season we were in the Premier League, Helder was immense and had a huge impact on the team.
“He’s a very talented player, but things happen naturally, players move from here to another place. It happens in football. Honestly, I’m delighted he’s showing his quality and enjoying his football.”
With his long-term future up in the air, Costa doesn’t appear too much time to really stamp his mark on Leeds and prove to Bielsa that he deserves to remain at Elland Road.
But given his recent performances from off the bench, he’s absolutely deserving of a rare start when Aston Villa come to town on Saturday afternoon. He could well be the Leeds boss’ game-changer if given the opportunity.