Former Leeds United loanee Alfonso Pedraza has certainly come on leaps and bounds since a disappointing loan spell at Elland Road during the 2016/17 season.
The Spanish left-back joined the Yorkshire club on a temporary basis from La Liga outfit Villareal in January 2017, scoring just one goal in 14 appearances for the Whites before returning to his homeland that June.
Five years on, and the now 25-year-old Spaniard is a regular for the Yellow Submarine who, this week, sensationally knocked out Italian giants Juventus of the Champions League with a 3-0 victory in Turin.
Although the left-back was a late substitute at the Allianz Stadium, he did play 79 minutes in the first leg at left-wing and has made a total of 28 appearances so far this term, contributing six assists in that period with his side seventh in La Liga.
This is a stark contrast to his period at Leeds which saw the then 20-year-old accumulate just 735 minutes of action for Gary Monk’s side, scoring one goal against Birmingham City with the Spaniard deployed as a left-winger. Although he was once dubbed a “threat” by Phil Hay, it never quite happened for him.
Given his unsuccessful loan spell, Pedraza left Elland Road at the end of that season and subsequently joined Alavés and Real Betis on loan for the 2017/18 and 2019/20 campaigns respectively before becoming a regular for Unai Emery’s side.
However, now seeing what the £19k-per-week Spaniard has gone on to achieve with his side winning the Europa League last term and now being Champions League quarter-finalists, it was certainly a mistake to neglect the winger/full-back.
Over the course of his career thus far, the 25-year-old has seen his market value rise and dip regularly, with Transfermarkt currently valuing Pedraza at £15.3m.
The former-Leeds player’s peak valuation came in June 2019 when worth £19.8m, which has subsequently fallen by £4.5m.
Alas, it certainly appears as though allowing the Spaniard to return to his parent club without much fuss was an error by Leeds and Victor Orta, who have struggled defensively this term.
The Whites currently have the second-worst goal difference in the Premier League at -33 whilst conceding 67 goals in their 30 league matches this term, the highest tally in the division at an average of 2.23 per game.
This has seen manager Marcelo Bielsa replaced with former RB Leipzig boss Jesse Marsch who has been entrusted to ensure the Yorkshire outfit survive relegation.
After back-to-back wins against Norwich and Wolves, the American appears to have made an impact at Elland Road with his side 16th. However, 17th placed Everton have three games in hand and are four points behind whilst 19th placed Burnley have also played three games fewer and are eight points behind; the job is from over.
In terms of current left-back options, summer signing Junior Firpo has underwhelmed whilst Stuart Dallas has been entrusted on that side of the defence regularly, despite the Northern Irishman also being called upon at right-back and in central midfield.
It’s certainly an area that could do with strengthening, which will further frustrate fans when seeing Pedraza doing so well.