Leeds have suffered a setback ahead of their Premier League clash against Tottenham, with Marcelo Bielsa confirming that Helder Costa is set to miss the rest of the campaign.
The Portugal international picked up a back injury against Manchester United after being slammed to the ground in a tussle with Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The winger tried to play on but was later forced off the pitch in the final 20 minutes of the game.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the game against Spurs, the Leeds manager said: “No, he won’t be able to compete again this season.”
Given that he hasn’t scored in the Premier League since the 4-2 defeat to Arsenal, some Leeds fans may be forgiven for thinking it may not be too much of a loss, with former Whites man Noel Whelan laying into him after a particularly disappointing performance against Aston Villa.
He said: “Costa was given his opportunity and once again he did not take it. We are talking about a £16m player here who did not affect the game in any way shape or form. He needs to show consistency. You need to make that position your own when your manager puts his trust in you from the start.
While the £70,000-per-week winger hasn’t been in the best of form, Bielsa has been unwavering in his trust, starting him in all three big clashes against Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United.
In response to Bielsa’s update on the injury, The Athletic confirmed that it was a major setback, reporting: “It’s big, given the injuries elsewhere for Leeds. If Raphinha does not recover in time for the game against Tottenham on Saturday, it leaves Bielsa with limited options to play on the wing.
“Jack Harrison would expect to feature on the left, while Stuart Dallas started on the right at Brighton. But Dallas and Leeds struggled in that game, which means Bielsa could turn to Ian Poveda, who has made appearances from the bench in recent weeks.”
The lack of genuine proven options to cover for Costa means that Bielsa will be gutted at losing another one of his first team players, especially given the doubts surrounding Raphinha’s fitness. Indeed, Dallas’ delivery from the right was poor against Brighton, finding a team-mate with just one of his seven crosses, while he also lost the ball 17 times that day.
With the Leeds boss clearly not willing to throw Poveda into the deep end of starting a match – he has been restricted to substitute appearances for the majority of the season – Costa’s loss is a significant one, even if the likes of Whelan haven’t been impressed with his recent displays.