A worrying Leeds United claim has been made regarding how Marcelo Bielsa dealt with Raphinha in the build-up to his exit from Elland Road.
The Athletic’s Phil Hay has dropped a big behind-the-scenes insight into the pair’s relationship in the final weeks before the Argentine head coach departed, with Jesse Marsch quickly coming in to replace him in the dugout.
One fan asked in his Q&A on Saturday: “For me, Will we see Raphinha quickly return to the player before last months demise. People say players hadn’t given up on Bielsa, but Raph was clearly affected at an individual level or questioning Bielsa’s in-game mgmt.”
Hay then replied with an interesting claim: “There was frustration there and he and Bielsa spoke after the Everton game (when Raphinha was subbed at half-time). He’s one player who Marsch needs to start performing quickly.”
Leeds fans will surely be gutted by this claim as it suggests that Marsch may have a difficult job on his hands to get the best out of Raphinha. It is impossible to judge who was in the wrong out of the Brazilian and Bielsa without knowing the full story, but the frustration that he was feeling clearly affected his performances on the pitch.
The forward has one goal and zero assists in his last seven Premier League appearances for Leeds, having bagged eight times and provided two assists in the previous 18 outings. This shows that his levels have dipped in recent weeks and his frayed relationship may have played a part in that.
Therefore, the supporters will be gutted that one of their best players has had his season derailed as it stands because of Bielsa’s management. Whilst it remains to be seen what led to the frustration – aside from being substituted off at half-time – there will surely be displeasure at the thought of an off-field issue causing Leeds problems on the pitch.
Leeds are 16th in the Premier League table and may need Raphinha back at his best in order to avoid the relegation to the Championship. His average SofaScore rating of 6.94 places him third in the Whites’ squad overall, with Liam Cooper and Patrick Bamford – who have both missed large chunks of the season through injury – slightly ahead of him.
It is now down to Marsch to get him back playing to his best and to wash away any of the frustration that he may still be harbouring from his time with Bielsa. The American coach getting the Brazilian scoring and assisting goals again could be crucial to Leeds picking up the points needed to avoid the drop and that is why fans will be gutted to hear about his mindset at the moment.